Big news for the old Bistro Vino spot, a charming two-story, Tudor-style manse in Montrose. Slated for demolition for the last two years, it’s now been leased with an option to own, by Mexico City brothers Jorge and Isaac Alvarez and will open as Ocean’s, a cocktail lounge/ceviche bar with a seafood and pasta menu. Jorge is a residential developer who used his construction crew to rehab the 1930s circa house. His brother Isaac is a chef, who along with consulting executive chef Rafael Corzo of Leon’s NE Hotel Nueva Estancia, created the menu that includes ten kinds of ceviche. Ocean's, 819 W. Alabama St., Houston, TX 77006, 713-520-7744.
It didn’t take long for father and son restaurateurs to get the new Masraff’s up and running. After closing the old place just a few blocks away, the new version is now open for lunch and dinner in an updated contemporary venue. Once a big box store, it is now a sleek eatery designed by Gary Whitney of Tony’s, Amici and Zulu fame. The menu is also being updated, particularly with new fish dishes sourced from Honolulu Fish Company. Masraff's, 1753 Post Oak Blvd.
, Houston, TX 77056, 713-355-1975.
Feast Expands to New Orleans
Feast, the offal eatery that has garnered national acclaim for its snout-to-tail cuisine, but has struggled for local recogniton, is opening a second location in New Orleans. Co-owner and chef Richard Knight says: “We think New Orleans will be more open to our kind of cooking.” He and partners James and Meagan Silk have secured the old True Brew spot at 200 Julia Street in the Warehouse District of NOLA and plan to switch back and forth between the two cities once the second locale opens in late August or early September, promising not to abandon Houston fans. Feast, 219 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77006, 713-529-7788.
Squash Blossoms Return to Hugo’s
As the season warms, Houston restaurants return to summer’s favorite flavors: Heritage tomatoes, halibut and tuna, and at Hugo’s, squash blossoms. Executive chef Hugo Ortega mixes the delicacies into enchiladas, quesadillas, soups and even beef tenderloin. One of the most popular dishes is the squash blossoms stuffed with fresh goat cheese. Hugo's, 1600 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77006, 713-524-7744.
Tuna Time at Prego
Prego, located in the heart of Rice Village, has introduced a special seasonal tuna menu for lunch and dinner through the end of June. Executive chef John Watt’s casual, Italian-style trattoria will be serving fresh tuna dishes such as tonno con spaghetti nero, carapaccio di tonnno and tonno con salsa puttanesca, marrying his traditional Italian flavors with the summertime fish. Prego, 2520 Amherst St., Houston, TX 77005, 713-529-2420.
Hotel Granduca, an Italian high-end boutique hotel in Uptown Park, has snagged a coup by hiring executive chef Renato De Pirro, formerly head of Osteria del Circo in the Bellagio in Las Vegas. De Pirro takes over the intimate and upscale Ristorante Cavour at the Houston hotel in May. Chef De Pirro launched his culinary career in his native Italy, where he served as executive chef for La Locanda di Ansedonia, Grosseto, a fine dining restaurant located in Ansedonia, Italy. He owned---and was executive chef of---Ristorante La Ribotta, a fine-dining establishment located in Monte Argentario, Italy.
Renato De Pirro graduated from the culinary school IPSAAR Spoleto, Italy, with a certified chef de cuisine diploma. He has been a featured chef on numerous regionally and nationally televised cooking shows, including the Food Network, and was a Silver medalist in the World Cup of Culinary Arts. He was also winner of the third annual Bertolli Sous Chef Award. Ristorante Cavour, Hotel Granduca, 1080 Uptown Park Blvd., Houston, TX 77056, 713-418-1104.
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