Restaurants / Openings

Woodlands Favorite Opens a New Showcase Restaurant in River Oaks Shopping Center — Zanti Cucina Italiana Has Arrived

This Time, It's The Woodlands Moving Into the Bayou City

BY // 11.22.22
photography Courtesy of Zanti Cucina Italiana

Look who is moving inside the loop. Zanti Cucina Italiana, which bills itself as an authentic Italian full-service restaurant, has taken up residence on West Gray in the tony River Oaks Shopping Center. The first Zanti Cucina Italiana restaurant calls The Woodlands home. Now it’s switching up the tried-and-true practice of Houston restaurants moving to The Woodlands by bringing a Woodlands favorite into the Bayou City.

Zanti Cucina’s local owner and founder Santiago Peláez first launched the restaurant up north in 2019. The catchy name is inspired by Santiago, too. Apparently, the service-minded soul has garnered the nickname “sentimental Santi,” and voila, change the S to a Z and you have Zanti.

“With the success of our first location in The Woodlands, it was only natural for us to expand to this renowned neighborhood in Houston,” Peláez says. “After spending months designing the new space and menu encapsulating the essence of the Italian culture, we could not be more thrilled with the result.”

The new River Oaks space is more than 8,900 square feet and includes a charcuterie bar, an open wood-fired pizza oven and a chef’s table (that doubles as a private dining space) overseen by executive chef and director of operations Stefano Ferrero along with chef Hilario Zamora.

“In Italy, it is tradition to bring the family together and sit at one table sharing stories over delicious food and drinks,” Ferrero says.

For dinner that means a menu at Zanti Cucina Italiana that includes antipasti like octopus carpaccio ($24), duo di Tonno, a yellowfin tuna tartare, and carpaccio with preserved lemons and capers and eggplant parmigiana ($13).

The homemade pasta selections bring gnocchi al Funghi Silvestri made with a mélange of roasted mushrooms ($23), beef ravioli stuffed with braised beef ($28) and black truffle tagliolini with shavings of fresh black truffles, Parmigiano Reggiano and truffle infused oil.

Octopus carpaccio is just one of the dishes at the new River Oaks Zanti Cucina (Photo by Courtesy of Zanti Cucina Italiana)
Octopus carpaccio is just one of the dishes at the new River Oaks Zanti Cucina (Photo by Courtesy of Zanti Cucina Italiana)

Finally, the mains include lamb t-bone and chops with a mint-scented pea sauce and crispy Brussels sprouts ($52), chicken paillard with baby arugula and heirloom tomatoes ($26) and saffron-dusted scallops ($42). Carnivores craving grilled meats can indulge in a mighty bistecca alla Fiorentina, a 42-ounce porterhouse served ($148), or the 22-ounce prime grade “cowboy steak” ($84).

Sweet endings include gelato, a semifreddo al gianduja, frozen chocolate and hazelnut mousse ($11), panna cotta with fresh berries ($11) and a meringue topped lemon tart ($10).

Zanti Cucina Italiana is located in River Oaks Shopping Center at 1958 West Gray Street, Suite 101. It is open for lunch Thursday through Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm. Zanti Cucina serves dinner from 4 pm to 10 pm Mondays through Thursdays, 4 pm to 11:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 4 pm to 9 pm on Sundays.

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