Restaurants / Openings

Powerhouse Houston Chef Brings His Fine Dining Chops to Pizza and Crudo — Terrence Gallivan Creates Elro in a Historic Bungalow

No Ordinary Chef and No Ordinary Setting

BY // 07.06.23
photography Julie Soefer

If the name Terrence Gallivan rings a bell, it should. From 2012 until its closing in 2019, Gallivan and chef Seth Siegel-Gardner brought Houston The Pass & Provisions, a two-in-one restaurant that paired a luxe fine-dining enclave (The Pass) with a chic boîte serving casual pizza and pasta (Provisions). During its run, The Pass & Provisions won critical acclaim both locally and nationally. Bon Appetit declared it the sixth best restaurant in America just a year after its debut. Other highlights of Gallivan’s CV include a stay in New York City behind the range of such lauded restaurants as Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, The Modern, Fiamma and Gordon Ramsay at The London Hotel.

This Virginia native, who now calls Texas home, also has two James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef: Southwest under his belt.

Now Gallivan has struck out on his own with Elro Pizza + Crudo, a decidedly more low-key restaurant than The Pass & Provisions, located in a circa-1928 bungalow where Midtown meets the edge of the Montrose in Houston. The intimate 1,200-square-foot space — Elro’s name is a nod to Gallivan’s beloved children Eleanor and Ronan — has a dining room that seats just 16 inside (with another 16 at the bar), as well as a shaded patio deck that will seat 72 when the Houston weather accommodates.

To transform the nearly century-old bungalow into his new restaurant, Gallivan enlisted Betty Maccagnan, who previously designed The Pass & Provisions. At Elro, Maccagnan has installed Art Deco pendants and globe lighting, a Carrara-marble-topped bar and two color ways of the whimsical Hygge & West Fable wallpaper where the tortoise and the hare play out the childhood classic tale, frolicking on every vertical surface of the Lilliputian space. Outside, you can take a seat on the freshly restored white vintage wrought-iron Salterini-style furniture, updated with a tropical pink-patterned fabric.

Elro PIzza and Crudo interiors (Photo by Julie Soefer)
At Elro Pizza + Crudo, designer Betty Maccagnan has installed Art Deco pendants and globe lighting, a Carrara-marble-topped bar, and two color ways of the whimsical Hygge & West Fable wallpaper where the tortoise and the hare play out the childhood classic tale. (Photo by Julie Soefer)

Gallivan served as both chef and wine buyer at The Pass & Provisions, so for Elro he’s curated a concise wine list that ranges from natural sparklers and New World favorites to Old World benchmarks from Italy. The bar offers beer on tap, classic cocktails and eight house specialties created by bar manager Patrick Dougherty.

What to Eat at Elro Pizza + Crudo

Elro Pizza + Crudo’s opening menu is tightly edited, with starters that include a slice of toasted sourdough bruschetta piled high with creamy whipped ricotta, topped with minced giardiniera ($9). For $5 more, add fresh anchovies (boquerones) or sliced prosciutto di Parma. Scamorza arancini includes four orbs of breaded and fried Italian rice filled with a melted morsel of Scamorza cheese, all poised atop a mildly spicy arrabbiata sauce ($12).

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Other starters include a vegan Caesar ($13), saltimbocca sausage stuffed with chicken and prosciutto ($16), and a hoagie built with mortadella, hot coppa, provolone and giardiniera ($18).

On the lighter side are delectable crudo (raw) dishes such as oysters on the half shell with calamansi, cucumber and pink peppercorn mignonette ($21); tuna on toast with nori, pistachio and ’Nduja, a cured pork meat assemblage ($22); and nepitella-cured salmon enlivened with apples, celery and hazelnuts ($22). I enjoyed the subtle smoked Kampachi — slices of smoky yellowtail with fried baby yellow squash and zucchini slices and pumpkin seeds, topped with dollops of citrusy yuzu kosho sauce ($20).

Elro Pizza + Crudo Salad (Photo by Julie Soefer)
Elro Pizza + Crudo’s vegan version of Caesar salad shows this new Houston restaurant’s creativity. (Photo by Julie Soefer)

The shareable 12-inch pizzas are built on a crisp crust that gives way to a chewy pull. Sure, there’s the mozzarella ($19) for the purist, but why not go for the unexpected, such as the mortadella, drizzled with pistachio pesto, balsamic marinated onions and Parmesan ($24) or the guanciale (Italian cured pork cheeks) with a white parmesan sauce reminiscent of the foundation of an onion-scented sauce soubise ($22).

For those who love cured meats, Elro does not disappoint.

“The chorizo is our version of a pepperoni pie — really nice chorizo seco from Salumeria Biellese in New York City atop a tomato sauce with Mahón cheese from Spain and piquillo peppers,” Gallivan says. “Once it’s baked, it’s topped off with dressed arugula.

“I’m basically trying to recreate a delicious sandwich I had at Borough Market in London 15 years ago.”

This special pie goes for $22.

Elro Pizza + Crudo is currently open from noon to 10 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays with plans to open Tuesdays in the near future. Reservations are suggested for dining indoors. Elro Pizza + Crudo is located at 2405 Genesee Street.

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