Phil's Oyster Bar & Seafood Restaurant | Baton Rouge, LA
A Mix of Italy and the South
Phil’s Oyster Bar has always been a family affair for the Piazza family. In 1975, Gus Piazza bought out the owners of the Baton Rouge, La.- based restaurant, brought in his parents and sister, and completely overhauled the menu with family recipes. Sons Anthony and Jordan Piazza and their three sisters learned good work ethics at an early age as they spent nights and weekends alongside their dad. And along the way, they got to know the menu quite intimately.
“We’re a big Italian family and we love to eat,” gushes Jordan Piazza, who now serves as general manager and co-owner of the restaurant with his brother. “All the dishes on the menu, we love them all.” Phil’s menu ranges from standard Louisiana fare like Po’Boys and seafood gumbo to char-grilled oysters and fried catfish.
Of course, there are a few Italian dishes as well. The signature meatball originates from a century-old Piazza family recipe that’s topped with Provolone. And the crabmeat Caroline consists of crab meat au gratin topped with cheese that’s broiled golden brown.
Piazza’s sons loved Phil’s so much that when their dad shuttered the restaurant in 2007, they worked hard to resurrect it in 2016 in a new location near Louisiana State University. Of most importance to them was paying homage to their dad’s legacy by decorating the restaurant with original memorabilia that he’d collected over the years.
“We were strategic in making sure that it was very nostalgic so that loyal diners would feel at home,” says Jordan. “Dad was a people person, so he collected a lot of stuff over the years. He had a lot of sports memorabilia and had photos of celebrity guests like Lionel Richie, who ate there all the time.” Other vintage accents included Cypress wall paneling, a popular wood paneling used in the 1970s and 1980s, to give it a bit of yesteryear ambiance.
One thing they left intact was the seafood connection their dad secured for Phil’s. For 10 years, Gus Piazza used a local purveyor from Hopedale, La., and Jordan says he’s proud to carry on the tradition.
“That’s one thing we have prided ourselves on: All our seafood must come from Louisiana,” he beams. “We get a lot of compliments on our oysters. People have inquired about us selling oysters that are from other parts of the country, but we have had much success with who we are. We pay a premium for them, but it’s worth it. We want to keep it simple, which is why we only serve one brand.”
The changes they have made aim to draw younger customers alongside more seasoned, loyal diners. They’ve added many healthier, grilled options. A designated bar serves Sazeracs and other classic cocktails. And the Sunday brunch menu whips up chicken and sweet potato waffles as well as a crawfish omelet. It’s a brand-new Phil’s Oyster Bar, and their dad would have certainly approved.