After a four year sabatical from the foodie scene, Lynette Hawkins, whose popular La Mora Cucina Toscana closed in 2005, is back with a hipper, more casual concept: Giacomo's Cibo e Vino. Architect Kathy Heard, who designed the swank Sushi King site, has overhauled the River Oaks' space that once housed Palazzo's and Pan y Agua and turned it into a colorful, retro spot with lots of bright accents and murals. With continuous service from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, Hawkins offers up a lengthy wine list and lots of small Venetian plates known as cicchetti. Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, 3215 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77098, 713-522-1934.
Fleming’s Joins Burger Blitz
The prime grade burger that Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in River Oaks launched this summer has been so successful that executive chef James Cole has created a entire menu devoted to burgers. Burger fans can feast on sliced filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms and béarnaise sauce on a bun as well as the prime beef burger. Non-beefeaters can also join the burger fest with a jumbo lump crab cake burger, an ahi tuna burger and even the portobello burger with sautéed spinach and creamy goat cheese. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 2405 Alabama St., Houston, TX 77004, 713-520-5959.
Massraff’s is Moving
Russell and Tony Masraff are moving their namesake restaurant Massraff's down the road next year. They've signed a lease for a former retail space on Post Oak Boulevard and have nabbed designer Gary Whitney to create a 200-seat eatery with patios, water features and an open kitchen. Massraff’s, 1025 S. Post Oak Lane, Houston, TX 77056, 713-355-1975.
Vallones' New Venture
The First Family of Food, Tony and Jeff Vallone, has been planning a new eatery for a while now. Plans are still in the works, but it will be a more casual place than the signature Tony's. Now, at least, they have a location. After pulling out of the new River Oaks Shopping Center earlier this year, father and son have signed a lease to take over Jimmy Wilson's Seafood and Chop House on San Felipe this fall. Wilson will head to Galveston to open a different kind of seafood eatery. Tony's, 3755 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX 77046, 713-622-6778.
The Tasting Room Group has found a new executive chef for its trendy food temple, The Reserve Room at Uptown Park. Former exec chef Steve Super had been tapped to open the group's new Max's Wine Dive in Austin, but now Matthew Lynn, formerly of Santa Fe's Coyote Cafe, is in the kitchen and revamping the menu, adding more pizzas and tapas like his lobster and sweet corn fritters. The Reserve Room at Uptown Park, 1101 Uptown Park Blvd., Ste. 18, Houston, TX 77056, 713-993-9800.
Executive chef Robert Gadsby, formerly of Noé, is no longer in the kitchen at Bedford, the high-end Heights eatery he opened last year. Acting manager and investor, Lambert Arceneaux, has said that Gadsby will still be involved in the restaurant, named for his hometown in England, but likely will shift to a new, smaller venue better suited to his talents. Sous chef Joe Shead is now heading up the Bedford kitchen. Bedford, 1001 Studewood St., Houston, TX 77008-7190, 713-880-1001.
Check back soon for more news.
View our calendar of Wine Dinners & Tastings in Houston