It’s hard to find a more beloved restaurant menu item in Baton Rouge than the Little Village’s Village Bread: a warm, tender Italian loaf whose quilt of savory toppings and pull-apart texture spark frenzied nibbling.
The appetizer has won the Best of 225 Awards’ Best Bread at a Local Restaurant category year after year, usually by an overwhelming margin. Most recently, 46% of readers gave it top honors, with the runner-up, Gino’s Laurence Bread (itself, excellent), garnering 13%.
The Village Bread is filling, no doubt. But that doesn’t stop the vast majority of diners from munching on it before jumping into the menu’s equally bold entrees.
“It’s unusual if someone doesn’t order Village Bread,” says operations manager Hugh Freeze. “I’d say 95% of tables.”
Its history dates to 2001, when Little Village owner Wayne Stabiler launched the eatery as a reboot to the storied Baton Rouge Italian restaurant, The Village, which closed in 1999. Here’s more about this classic-in-the-making.
The restaurant’s proprietary recipe for the twisted Italian bread is made by an offsite partner bakery, which sends the loaves to the Little Village partially baked.
It’s a texture thing
Each loaf is baked until the surface is just crisp. While hot, it’s painted with olive oil, and showered in fresh, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, cracked black pepper and chopped French parsley.
Variety is the spice of life
Village Bread purists like to savor each morsel in its simplest form. Those who prefer to gild the lily dip their bites in olive and garlic tapenade, add a schmear of nutty roasted garlic, or use the bread to sop up sweet-tangy red gravy.
The 17-inch loaf demands an investment of stomach space, but half-loaves are available for smaller tables and appetites.
The restaurant also sells par-baked, take-and-bake bread with toppings for diners who want to replicate the experience at home.
This article was originally published in the October 2021 issue of 225 magazine.