Society / Featured Parties

River Oaks District’s Hot New Italian Restaurant Brings a Beautiful Crowd Out: Bari Ristorante Is a Chic Palace

A Glam Outdoor Terrace and More Await

BY // 05.17.23
photography Johnny Than

In the end, I was delighted that I couldn’t make this particular restaurant’s opening night fête. I was already booked when the invitation to party at Bari Ristorante, the sizzling new upscale Italian restaurant in River Oaks District, arrived in my in-box. The result was that I was invited the previous night for the full on dining experience.

And oh what an experience.

Ken Jackson, Nick Boulle, Karen Boulle, Denis Boulle, Allison Boulle (Photo by Johnny Than)
Ken Jackson, Nick Boulle, Karen Boulle, Denis Boulle, Allison Boulle at the opening party for Bari Ristorante in River Oaks District (Photo by Johnny Than)

Had I joined the throng, 500 strong, at the opening party, I would have missed the full impact of the sophisticated, creative interiors that Bari partner Pedro Teyuca took pride in revealing. For the party, the furnishings were removed, the classic Italian menu items replaced with an array of appetizers and the full view of the chic design impacted by the crush.

From the moment we saw the glam outdoor dining terrace easily accessed from the restaurant and overlooking the newly installed green space, we couldn’t help but think that Bari would certainly give its wildly popular neighbor Toulouse Cafe and Bar a run for its money. But then Toulouse is French and has an impressively loyal clientele. Bari Ristorante is Italian.

Houston is surely big enough for both and the turnout on that first dinner night and at the party, both packed with nothing less than sparkly people, was proof that Bari is poised to make a serious mark in River Oaks District.

Tommy Nally, Patrick Hagemeister, Luisa Rangel de Alba, Casey Munoz, Manolo Munoz, Pedro Teyuca (Photo by Johnny Than)
Tommy Nally, Patrick Hagemeister, Luisa Rangel de Alba, Casey & Manolo Munoz, Pedro Teyuca at the opening party for Bari Ristorante in River Oaks District (Photo by Johnny Than)

Both nights saw guests stopping at the 1970 Fiat, which serves as a welcome wagon a the Bari Ristorante entrance, for those all important Instagram opportunities. Among the first to get a taste of the buzzy restaurant were Rachel and Jeff Bagwell with besties Debbie and Rudy Festari, Tena Lundquist Faust and Tyson Faust, Tama Lundquist, Alex Blair and Mark Grace, Melissa Stevens, and Linda Schmuck and Todd Zucker, to name a few.

On party night, waiters circled indoors and out with platters of arancini, fried risotto rice balls finished with caviar and crème fraiche, lobster bisque, burrata with tomato confit served on puff pastry and glazed with aged balsamic and more. Liquid refreshment flowed freely, including Champagne Déhu provided by Import Bubble Gold LLC, prosecco and the drink of the evening — Lychee Symphony made with Belvedere vodka, Soho liqueur, pear lychee nectar and lemon juice.

Stacy Snyder, Tracy Dugan, Chelsea Jones_0031-Bari Grand Opening-20230511-JT (Photo by Johnny Than)
Stacy Snyder,Tracy Dugan, Chelsea Jones at the opening party for Bari Ristorante in River Oaks District (Photo by Johnny Than)

Bari Ristorante certainly sets the stage for living la vita dolce.

PC Seen: Allison and Nick Boulle, Karen and Denis Boulle of neighboring de Boulle Luxury Jewelers, Vanessa and Eugenio Labarthe, Regina and Alfredo Lelo, Casey and Manolo Munoz, Patrick Hagemeister, Luisa Rangel, Harry Winston store director Petra Martinez, Carrigan Chauvin, Steven Gray, and Melissa and David Redman.

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