Culture / Restaurants

Houston’s Best Italian Restaurant Just May be in Bellaire

A Newcomer Expertly Dazzles

BY Laurann Claridge // 06.15.16

Michael May is known in culinary circles as half of the brother-sister duo that founded Candelari Sausage Company and the pizzeria of the same name. (Full disclosure: I cooked with May back in the day when we both worked in the lauded kitchens of Tony’s under chef Mark Cox.)

Bringing his love for all fare Italian — just across the street from his first restaurant on Bissonnet in Bellaire — May and co-owners Barry Gomel and Michael Chodrow enlisted Italian-born chef Roberto Crescini to man the range at their new Enoteca Rossa. Crescini, who hails from Brescia in Northern Italy, brings both an authentic touch of his homeland and modernity to the menu.

Enoteca Rossa
Pastry chef Valerie Stanley is the brains behind Enoteca Rossa’s desserts. Try her take on tiramisu.

His wood-fired pizzas stay true to the Napoli principles of pizza-making; the crusts have a soft pull countered by crispness and traditional toppings — in our case San Daniele prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella and fresh arugula ($16). His inventive panzanella alla Toscana, however, is a refreshing revamp of an old favorite: The deconstructed assemblage starts with a thin, toasted layer of house-made semolina bread, layered with classic ingredients — tomato, basil, red onion and cucumber, accompanied by pitted, oil-cured olives ($8).

His pastas are all made in-house (save for the gluten-free one) and include don’t-miss fettuccine with braised Texas lamb, a complex dish with great depth of flavor, smartly sized not to overwhelm ($16).

Pastry chef Valerie Stanley’s desserts (most priced at $8) include panna cotta with a fragrant layer of vanilla bean drizzled with a red wine reduction and fresh berries and lavender-scented crème brûlée.

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