Restaurants / Openings

Montrose Collective Gets a Swanky New Italian Restaurant With Piano Power — an Inside Look at the Sleek Marmo

A Chophouse With a Sophisticated Menu and a 22 Page Wine List

BY // 04.21.22
photography Kirsten Gilliam

If there’s a single word to describe Marmo, the new Italian chophouse that’s opened in the new Montrose Collective mixed-use development, it’s “swank.” The vibe, the sleek look — it all screams old school.

For starters, when was the last time you’ve seen a new restaurant with a piano bar? Marmo has brought a stylish resurgence to Houston dining, bringing back live music. And after two years of canceled concerts, plays and the like, I couldn’t be more delighted.

Created by the Baltimore-based Atlas Restaurant Group (which also opened Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar in River Oaks District), led by brothers Alex and Eric Smith, Marmo — which means “marble” in Italian — is the sister restaurant to the group’s Tagliata in Baltimore.

Designer Patrick Sutton conjured the interior and exterior patio spaces of Marmo with — as you’d imagine — cool black-and-white marble touches softened by organic jute-wrapped lighting and caramel leather banquettes. The dining room is awash with sunlight streaming through its corner windows, with partitions of drapery cordoning off dining niches.

Dining Room of Marmo at the Montrose Collective (Photo by Kirsten Gilliam)
Marmo has opened in the new Montrose Collective on lower Westheimer. It was brought to Houston by the restaurant group behind Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar. (Photo by Kirsten Gilliam)

The sophisticated menu was created by Atlas chef-partner Julian Marucci and executive chef Eli Jackson. Although the cuisine is Italian, Marmo gives a gentle nod to international ingredients and techniques. Don’t miss the Hamachi crudi, a changing array of sashimi bathed in passion-fruit spiked ponzu sauce with a ring of fresh red chile to bring a touch of heat and a squid ink rice chip for crunch ($19).

Tuscan fried chicken features dark meat cut off the bone, fried baby artichoke, preserved lemon and garlic aioli for dipping ($13). Insalate includes Castelfranco (a variety of bitter rose-colored radicchio) with blood-orange segments, bits of ricotta salata and pistachios tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette ($14), as well as a rich burrata-cheese-centered salad with strawberries and prosciutto di Parma, topped with a touch of Minus 8, the vinegar made from ice wine grapes ($21).

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Marmo Menu Highlights

Choose a bottle from the 22 page wine list (mostly Italian labels, of course) to accompany a groaning charcuterie board of cheeses, artisan salumi, olives and house-made giardiniera ($18 to $55). Eight fresh, hand-rolled pasta selections are offered by the full and half portions (and at happy hour, in quarter portions, too). The most unique being squid ink campanelle, little bell-shaped pasta tinted black and cradling fresh blue crab meat in a rich uni cream sauce ($26/$52). While the traditional Bolognese stands up to some of the best, the veal-enriched ragu is twisted around ribbons of fresh tagliatelle ($16/32).

But let’s not forget this is a chophouse. The prominent stars on the menu are dry-aged steaks and chops, ranging from a modest eight ounce black Angus beef tenderloin cut ($68) to the 18-ounce cowboy prime grade rib-eye, dry-aged for 45 days ($75). Connoisseurs of Wagyu beef can find Japanese A5 — the buttery, highly marbled beef that’s extremely rare (market price). And how better to dress your steak or chop than with a sauce — from a pecorino-and-black-pepper hollandaise to black-garlic mostarda or rosemary-aged beef fat butter, take your pick ($4 each).

I sampled the Texas quail saltimbocca, which, like the traditional veal dish, wrapped quail with prosciutto and fresh sage. I only wish it had been deboned ($22/$44).

Other tempting secondi plates include red snapper with caramelized fennel and lemon butter ($36) and duck with cherry Lambrusco sauce ($39). Little Italy classics such as chicken parmigiana, chicken marsala and veal chop Milanese make an appearance on the menu, too.

Marmo is located at 888 Westheimer Road, (832) 626-3400.

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