Restaurants / Openings

New Italian Restaurant Brings Tomato Power to Chris Shepherd’s Rotating Food World — Get Ready For One Fifth: Red Sauce Italian!

Expect Italian Classics and a Special Pizza

BY // 06.23.21
photography Taylor Hall

After the curtain drops Saturday on Underbelly Hospitality’s Georgia James Tavern at One Fifth, it will rise again on Tuesday to reveal Chris Shepherd’s newest Houston restaurant — One Fifth: Red Sauce Italian! Tomato season and access to the locally-grown juicy orbs of summer flavor are the inspiration for this next incarnation of Shepherd’s rotating-concept restaurant.

While Underbelly’s five-year lease on the one-time church site that houses the One Fifth restaurants was set to expire at the end of July, the landlord and Shepherd have reached an agreement that allows the popular restaurant experiment to continue through September. Instead of specifying an end date for the Italian red sauce celebration, the website features question marks. The closing will coincide with the opening of Underbelly’s Wild Oats, when the One Fifth staff will transition to the new Underbelly Hospitality restaurant in the reimagined Houston Farmers Market. Construction issues have that actual date in limbo.

Tomato Love

In the meantime get the bibs ready, the Red Sauce Italian! menu will feature good old-fashioned dishes infused with tomato sauce. Think spaghetti and meatballs, baked pastas, Shepherd’s fave chicken parmesan and a single pizza offering — pepperoni. The chef is said to have been talking about making pizza in One Fifth’s wood-burning oven for literally years and the oven is assumed to be the oldest in the city that is not gas assisted.

In the reveal of the latest rotating restaurant, Shepherd shares the sources for his tomatoes and their use in specific dishes. The Atkinson Farms product will be the centerpiece of fresh tomato sauces and as the base of the red sauce for pasta. Tomatoes from Goodthyme Farm will be served fresh and in slightly cooked dishes such as roasted tomatoes and burrata. The Bianco Dinapoli plum tomatoes, delivering sweetness and structure, will be the base of the pizza sauce.

IMG_0477 (Photo by Taylor Hall)
Roasted Tomato Burrata: A chunky Goodthyme Farm tomato pan sauce topped with sliced burrata from One Fifth: Red Sauce Italian! (Photo by Taylor Hall)

Shepherd will also pay homage to several friends with special dishes including Pass and Provisions’ Caesar salad, Ragù alla Napoletana (tomato braised pork osso bucco, meatballs, cacciatore sausage, fusilli rustic, broccoli rapini) from Chicago’s Monteverde, and his childhood favorite, Mr. C’s toasted ravioli.

The dessert menu from pastry director Victoria Dearmond will include New York style cheesecake, tiramisu and a hearth-baked chocolate torte.

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Fans of the Georgia James Tavern menu of burgers, steaks and sandwiches need not despair. A new iteration of that restaurant is expecting to open in Market Square Tower at 777 Preston at the end of July.

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