Restaurants / Openings

New All-Day Cafe Gives EaDo Serious Pastry and Sibling Chef Power — Cafe Louie is Already Building a Following

A True Bistro Menu With Dinner Still to Come

BY // 05.24.22

It’s all in the family. The Houston-born and bred brother-sister team of Angelo Emiliani and Lucianna “Louie” Emiliani have come home again to open their very first restaurant. Called Cafe Louie, it’s in the burgeoning East End.

Situated in a converted warehouse (just next to a quaint nonprofit micro grocer called Little Red Box Grocery), its moniker plays on the Lucinanna’s sweet nickname “Louie.” And even though EaDo is fast becoming one of the last affordable sections of the city to launch an entrepreneurial endeavor, there is still a dearth of restaurants there.

Cafe Louie’s Exterior (Photo by Becca Wright)
Cafe Louie’s founders and chefs, siblings, Angelo Emiliani and Lucianna “Louie” Emiliani, have spent a lifetime preparing to have their own restaurant. (Photo by Becca Wright)

No wonder from nearly the moment Cafe Louie swung open its doors earlier this month, neighbors flocked to this all-day cafe and bakery serving breakfast, lunch and “apertivo” from 7 am to 7 pm. (Dinner service is slated to start in the coming weeks.)

The sibling pair grew up in the kitchen, where their mother — a private chef — made cooking not just part of everyday life but also a form of self expression and joy. This inspired them both to take up the trade too. Angelo Emiliani credits his early days at Uchi Houston as a formative experience, preparing him for stops in San Francisco, Austin and Los Angeles, working with giants in the industry such as Thomas Keller and Chris Bianco at Nightbird, Ad Hoc, L’Oca d’Oro and Tartine.

Louie Emiliani began baking late at night, gifting treats to friends and family — until Angelo pulled her into a restaurant kitchen one busy holiday season. Louie thrived. She began baking at Tiny’s Milk & Cookies before joining Angelo in California to continue to hone her pastry skills at mainstays Tartine and Lodge Bread.

Now it’s all coming together at Cafe Louie.

Inside Cafe Louie

The airy open 2,300-square-foot space is flooded with natural light and features touches of coral, turquoise and pink, offset with light wood tables and banquettes and a glass-walled kitchen, designed by Logan Beck of Root Lab. (Beck, along with Lauren Ferrante, is also an owner in the casual concept.) Artist Daniel Cardoza hand-painted the linear sea blue mural meant to evoke the turns of the (laminated) croissant dough, which, when folded and rolled, results in 55 buttery layers, which many pastry chefs (including Louis) contend make the flakiest croissants. croissant_byBeccaWright (Photo by Becca Wright)
Cafe Louie features an in-house bakery where co-owner Lucianna “Louie” Emiliani bakes up these flaky, buttery croissants. (Photo by Becca Wright)

Embracing the California ethos to create a bistro-style menu created with ingredients procured from local farms and producers, the duo starts mornings with that aforementioned house-made butter croissant ($5). The delectable-sounding McLouie is a fun play on the golden arch’s version. This one is built on a Redneck cheddar gougere split and layered with a maple sausage patty, sunny side egg and dijonnaise ($8). A cool yogurt parfait ($6) layers coconut studded granola with a passionfruit mouse and macerated pineapple.

Pastries baked daily include “cinni rolls” ($5) with cream cheese icing, pine nut studded coffee cake ($4), seasonal scones ($5) and a strawberry kolache with a brown sugar crumble ($5). All of which pairs well with their morning lattes, espresso and teas.

The daytime food served from 11 am to 5 pm includes a hearty ham “sammich” ($16), homemade focaccia sandwiched with French ham, mustard, Duke’s mayo, a relish of cornichon and fried tater tot strings. The simple Panzanella salad ($12) plays up farm fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives, lettuce and marinated goat cheese. While the preserved lemon chicken dish ($18) skewers flavorsome grilled dark meat chicken, napped with a preserved lemon glaze that’s served atop Vadouvan rice, with a poached egg all drizzled with an orange blossom vinaigrette.

Until dinner service officially begins, a pretty tempting selection of sharable “Aperitivo” plates will sate in the meantime. Count me in after 5 pm for a glass of wine paired with Cafe Louie’s chicken liver parfait ($14) accompanied by strawberry jam, guanciale, pecans and milk bread toast, or a shrimp cocktail with cilantro cocktail sauce and lemon aioli ($12). The fried chicken here is seasoned with black-lime pepper and salt ($8) while Suppli carbonara ($6) is their take on the classic pasta dish tossed with guanciale, pecorino, mozzarella, egg yolk and coarse black pepper.

Cafe Louie is located at 3401 Harrisburg in EaDo.

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