Restaurants / Openings

Montrose is Getting a New Foodie Playground — Three Ambitious New Spots Center Around Wine

Master Sommelier and Blue Hill Grad Team Up

BY // 06.20.18

It’s not so much as Good Night, and Good Luck as it is good luck to Goodnight Hospitality. The group behind Goodnight Charlie’s is bringing a triple threat project to a mega-building in Montrose.

Master Sommelier David Keck and partners Chef Felipe Riccio and Peter McCarthy kicked things off with their Houston honky tonk. Now, they’re becoming their own next-door neighbors with this adjacent three-for-on, which is set to open in stages in 2019.

You know what they say. Good restaurants make good neighbors.

Montrose Cheese & Wine, casual European eatery Rosie Cannonball and intimate tasting restaurant March are the three concepts. They will open separately, in this order.

First came the building, then came the concept. Originally when they got the space on the 1600 block of Westheimer in Montrose, Keck, Riccio and McCarthy all thought it would be converted into just one restaurant.

“Initially, we wanted to do something closer to Rosie Cannonball,” McCarthy tells PaperCity. But when architects Curtis & Windham discovered it was better to raze the existing building and start from scratch, it opened the floodgates for creativity.

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The three concepts came naturally to the crew. “A lot of the way our company develops is finding very talented people and then figuring out the best way to utilize their talents,” Keck says. “And looking at what would most benefit the neighborhood.”

Goodnight Hospitality is crazy in love with Montrose. “We just love how artsy it is. It’s really eclectic in terms of the retailers there. Just the bar and restaurant scene itself. It’s pretty representative of what makes Houston great,” McCarthy says.

Walkability is a mission Goodnight Hospitality holds dear. The partners aim to increase approachability and mobility in the neighborhood with their new threesome.

Visitors can enjoy three different vibes all in one area. March, with its Mediterranean drive, Rosie Cannonball with its bread and pizza program, and Montrose Cheese & Wine with its carefully curated options.

Everyone behind the Goodnight Compound agrees: March is “Felipe’s baby.”

The intimate 28-seat restaurant upstairs focuses on a Mediterranean-inspired tasting menu. The richness of the region, a melting pot of languages and culture, appealed to Riccio. “It’s going to be a very personal project for sure,” the chef says.

Riccio is out to test the boundaries of fine dining in Houston. “There’s an old meaning for ‘march’ used in Medieval Europe. ‘March’ is this area of land of the border between two territories. This edge, this frontier. That sort of spoke to me,” Riccio says.

Exploring boundaries and limits are integral to his personal style of cooking. “It ties in directly to Mediterranean, endless culture and ideas,” the chef says. As the center of the known world for a millennia, he has a lot to unpack as he experiments in the kitchen.

But for Riccio, restaurants go beyond the food that’s presented on your plate. It’s an entire experience, one that his tasting menu will aim accomplish in just 90 minutes to two hours.

“A restaurant is a lot more than just the dining where you sit down at the table and you eat. It can be informative. It can be emotional. It can be memorable. You remember the whole meal. You remember the person you were with,” Riccio says.

The chef, whose stops include a stint at New York’s famed Blue Hill, brings a nuanced background to March. “Felipe’s got great wine knowledge, which is super unusual in a chef,” Keck says. The sommelier also took Riccio under his wing at Camerata, showing the chef the ropes.

“I said ‘I’m not a bartender, I don’t know anything about wine. I’ve cooked my whole life,’ ” Riccio says. “He said, ‘That’s fine. I can teach you that.’ ’’ Three years at Camerata truly influenced Riccio’s palate and the way he cooks.

It takes a village to develop the perfect food and wine pairings — or at least, it takes the combo of Keck and Riccio. Constant communication is at the core of the Goodnight Compound.

“We work in a truly collaborative format. With Felipe, it’s very much a conversation, saying what works, and what doesn’t,” Keck says.

Just because a dish and wine match on paper, a fine chemical balance, doesn’t mean it’s meant for March’s menu. “If they don’t work emotionally, or for the dinner, then they’re not a good pairing,” Riccio says.

Cannonball!

Rosie Cannonball is all fierce name and fun food. Keck calls it an homage to the great casual dining culture of Southern Europe, the thread connecting Portugal, France, Spain and Italy. The menu revolves around a wood-burning grill and oven, with all eyes on the dedicated pizza and bread programs, and a stunning wine list that’s years in the making.

“The wines are going to be under-the-radar producers. David’s been working on these wine lists for the last two years. It’s time to really bring the producers that you don’t normally see in Houston,” McCarthy says. Think vintages like Beaujolais, Loire Valley and progressive New World producers.

The list will be expansive and have affordable options. “It’s wines that are meant to be consumed fresh and young. In a perfect world, a table at the restaurant has a bunch of great, good family-style bottles open,” Keck notes.

rendering of goodnight
Goodnight Hospitality has made a triple threat: Montrose Cheese & Wine, Rosie Cannonball and March.

Rosie Cannonball’s brought a first to Houston: for-real, professional, basement wine cellars. That’s unheard of in Space City restaurants. Plans were shaping up before Hurricane Harvey, and the historic storm didn’t knock them out.

“The builder said, ‘Why don’t we build a cellar?’ I thought, ‘You’ve got to be out of your mind,’ ” Keck laughs. Now, two distinct cellars are underway, one for active use and another for extended aging. A little more than 15,000 bottles will be able to fit comfortably.

Rosie Cannonball’s got a relaxed vibe built around attention to detail, like the tender love and care taken with the wine list. “It’s more of an attitude. It’s more a way of eating and cooking than a style of cooking. It’s this attitude, this culture,” Riccio says.

“We want it to be this sort of lively, energetic place. You sort of walk in there and you feel it and you read it on the menu and you feel it in the lighting and you hear it in the playlist.”

Montrose’s Cheese Land

Montrose Cheese & Wine will be a bite-sized, carefully curated little spot for sophisticated goodies and kitchen gifts. The selection will be compact but robust, with 12 to 15 seasonally rotating cheeses chosen by Houston Dairymaids and 75 wines.

The 760-square-foot retail anchor will be a little less Spec’s and a little more Mom-and-Pop’s. “The pendulum’s kind of swinging in the direction of just doing independent-type shops,” McCarthy says.

“With everything you can get online now and at major grocery stores, people are looking for more of an experience. They want to trust whoever’s behind the counter.”

Wine tastings and short pours of wine can give guests a taste of the options. The trio welcomes people to come in, enjoy a half glass of wine and do a cheese board with some friends. Beer, cider and espresso are also on the table.

The partners teamed up with the owners of nearby Biscuit Home to select some presents for the chef in your life. McCarthy’s wife Bailey runs the show, and she’s helped select an array of food- and wine-related gifts perfect for dinner party guests on the go.

Three’s a crowd. Now, let’s see if this new Goodnight Compound draws a crowd of its own.

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