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BIG EASY DOES IT

Whatever they call it, it's fantastic. Smooth and spicy only partially describes the taste; it has a faint curry flavor and reminded me more of a light, creamy squash soup than carrots. The other soup we sampled, a standard cream of asparagus (same prices), was less intense but got the job done.

The mixed-green dinner salad (95 cents with a pizza, $2.50 alone) brings a fresh pile of romaine lettuce with a few field greens thrown in; it came with the ripest roma tomatoes I've seen in a long time (even though many chefs consider roma only a cooking tomato, I thoroughly enjoy them raw), shredded carrots and crisp croutons. Even better was the accompanying warm, puffy breadstick made from regular pizza dough, and a side of fresh, vinaigrette-style Italian dressing that actually benefited from the overdose of oregano, as well as a healthy helping of black pepper.

And the meal got even better when dessert time came around. The Bourbon Street Pecan Pie ($2.95) is unquestionably the best I've ever had. Heavier on the corn-syrup-and-egg part, the pie contains a generous helping of well-aged, smooth bourbon and just the right number of sticky pecans. Laura's Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dream ($3.75) is a kid's (okay, an adult's, too) fantasy: A thin slab of frozen cookie dough sits beneath a scoop each of chocolate chip and mint chocolate chip ice creams with a chocolate chip cookie sandwiched between.

When I think of New Orleans food, it's of a cuisine that prides itself on melding diverse ethnic ingredients and a lighthearted approach to cooking. Bourbon Street Original Pizza Bar is certainly in the neighborhood.

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