One could almost hear the collective, mournful sob of local night owls when Verti Marte, the beloved 24-hour French Quarter corner store, went up in flames in a six-alarm fire in May 2010. The grungy all-night corner deli was a mainstay of the neighborhood serving chicken fried steak, killer made-to-order sandwiches, packs of smokes, and household essentials like toilet paper and Hubig’s pies for more than 40 years. (On a speaking tour that passed through New Orleans, Anthony Bourdain once quipped that he was calling in an order from Verti Marte for dinner.)
There was never really a question of whether the late-night institution would re-open – it was just a matter of when. The answer: January 2011, exactly eight months to the day after the fire.
The menu hasn’t changed. You can still order from an exhaustive menu of sandwiches, salads and breakfast basics. Everyone still asks what’s on the Ernie’s Powerhouse (pulled pork, shrimp, olive salad, pepper jack and provolone) and All that Jazz (ham, turkey, shrimp, mushrooms, Swiss and American cheese and WOW sauce). And the tattooed counter guy still won’t tell you what’s in the WOW sauce because the owner still hasn’t told him.
A few things have changed at Verti Marte, and all for the better, unless you count the new daytime crowds of foodie tourists dropping by with their cameras. The little corner store practically sparkles now with fresh paint, a gleaming stainless steel and glass deli case and a spotless kitchen. Nothing a little time and a lot of grease won’t do to return the place to its former, gritty glory. The only relics in the spit-shined store are the sheets of plywood hanging on the walls tagged with love notes and best wishes from customers while the store was boarded up.
This all-night deli/convenience store is a French Quarter institution. Locals queue up night and day for the deli's extensive menu of carry-out cuisine, including enormous po-boys.