Raleigh, N.C. — In the heart of downtown Raleigh is a Cajun enclave, where diners dig in to a taste of New Orleans, sampling Gulf shrimp appetizers and chicken and sausage gumbo. At Battistella's, they celebrated the Super Bowl with a special sense of pride.
"New Orleans is my hometown, so I'm always excited when something exciting is happening in New Orleans," said Debbie Reddoch. She was among those in attendance at the Battistella's Super Bowl party hosted by chef and owner Brian Battistella.
Without a team to root for on the field, Battistella had plenty of time to work in the kitchen Sunday, but he left no doubt about this loyalty.
"As much negative publicity as New Orleans gets, I'm proud they get to host another Super Bowl," he said.
His guests enjoyed a special Super Bowl menu. "Bourbon Street will be packed tonight, so we can do a little bourbon and roasted garlic glaze on those particular wings I'm doing," he said.
Reddoch was certainly pleased. "It definitely feels like it could be a bar on Decatur Street," she said.
For Curry Lund, there was just one thing missing. "I wish there were beads and somebody with a mask, other than that, they did a great job," he said.
After Hurricane Katrina, Battistella made Raleigh his home, but having grown up just blocks from the Superdome, he retains a soft spot for that area.
"It's just really the heart of the city, and an iconic figure, the Superdome," Battistella said.
During Katrina, the arena was symbol of despair. In hosting the biggest game of the NFL calendar, it symbolizes a comeback, a return of the Super Bowl after an 11-year absence. The Superdome has proven the most popular Super Bowl venue, hosting seven of them over the years.
Elsewhere in Raleigh, fans of the two teams in competition packed bars to cheer for their favorites. San Francisco 49ers fans set up camp at High Park Bar and Grill on East Whitaker Mill Road, while Baltimore Ravens fans gathered at Lynwood Grill off Glenwood Avenue.