Society / Featured Parties

Houston Restaurant Grand Opening Conjures Up Tony Soprano and Rat Pack Visions

Ben Berg Defies Convention to Pull Off Another Stunner

BY // 05.03.19
photography Daniel Ortiz

Baby, this was not your ordinary restaurant opening. And, actually, little if anything that Benjamin Berg does lands below the extraordinary. Case in point, Thursday night’s Little Italy-themed opening of B.B. Italia Kitchen & Bar and B.B. Pizza To Go.

Even without the musical welcome by the accordion player, the 300 guests would have been swept into a Tony Soprano frame of mind thanks to the greetings from a convincing clutch of “mafioso” and the music of a Rat Pack-inspired band led by local faves Bob Luna and Sharon Montgomery. When they took a break, the music continued with a singer channeling Andrea Bocelli. Mama mia!

Berg’s younger brother, chef Daniel Berg, who mans the kitchen of the restaurant formerly known as Carmelo’s, wowed supporters of the Spring Branch-Memorial Sports Association, beneficiary of the grand opening bash. For starters, staff passed bite-sized caprese salad servings, meatballs in pomodoro sauce, bacon parmesan bites, linguini cups and Grandma’s Ravioli (short rib stuffing) and whipped ricotta toast.

High note of the culinary excitement for this one great night took place at the back of the Memorial Area restaurant in the private dining room which was transformed to model Little Italy’s Feast of San Genaro. Here, with Italian flag decorations flying, food stations delivered a remarkable array of Italian specialties: Stromboli; pepperoni and chicken parmigiana rolls; hot Italian ribs; sausage and peppers; an array of Italian meats including salami, mortadella, prosciutto cotto, prosciutto di parma; and Italian desserts including cannoli, Italian cookies and zeppole; served along with beer, wine, prosecco, bellinis, limoncello and sangria.

In the meantime, each of the six semi-private and private rooms were organized to display their versatility with entertainments including a caricature artist, a cigar roller and a slideshow paired with a 3-D model of the SBMA “Fields of Dreams” future plans.

The evening served as the launch for the SBMSA $3.3 million “Field of Dreams” capital campaign. Contributing to that fund was Ben Berg’s auction of two 12-course Meet Our Meat tasting and wine dinners for 18 plus a five-course wine pairing dinner at B.B. Italia. That generous effort alone contributed $20,000 for the association’s plans for rebuilding playing fields and adding amenities at the Spring Branch Education Center.

PC Seen: Monica Berg, Marla Berg, Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu, Frani and David Denenbrug, Kelly and Dr. Fred Aguilar, Mimi and Robert Del Grande, Louisa and Lou Savarese, Jack Rains, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Karen and Wade Jones, Brooke and Patrick Murphy, Dr. John Share, Chuck Brown, Jordan and Dylan Seff, Amy and Lewis Gissel, and Lisa Appleby.

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