It’s the kind of find that you can’t resist telling everyone you know about-“it’s a cozy, romantic restaurant that makes you feel as though you’ve landed in Italy”, you tell your friends, and then you say ‘and it’s in Houston.’
I haven’t spent much time in Houston and I’ve been to Italy only twice but I think I can safely say as an Italian cuisine lover that this is a pretty good find in an unexpected place. The location isn’t the greatest neighborhood-maybe 15 minutes from the Houston Astrodome-but step inside this small-house-turned-Sicilian Trattoria and your eyes will have the first delight, next your ears, and then your palate.
The restaurant has been in business for nearly 30 years and the guitarist who serenades the patrons told me that the owner is tired and may be looking to sell. Hopefully, if that happens, the new owners will carry on what seems to have worked for the past three decades.
It’s quaint and romantic inside-sort of like a cottage-style home with an Italian flare-red is the main color of the carpet and upholstery. There are a few small rooms; I dined in one that looked as though it could have been a small den at one time. Nearby sat a couple that seemed like they were on a first date, a trio of seniors out for a nice night, and a father and son. The elderly guitarist (who likely had been strumming there or at other fine restaurants for decades) talked graciously with the dinner guests in between several songs, some in Spanish and others in English. When he stopped at my table he reached for my hand and, in true Italian style, kissed it gently. I later learned he was Spanish (and he thought I was too). The song he told me was a great Spanish love song; he gently made a motion as though he was wiping tears and then kissed my hand again-charming guitarist to match an equally charming ambiance.
There are restaurants where the mood captures you and the food is merely a pleasant addition because your other senses have already been satisfactorily overwhelmed. This was the case here. I ordered veal and a salad. The salad for just $3.95 was delicious. Grilled peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and served with garlic bread that was perfect for dipping in the salad dressing-a creamy Italian vinaigrette mixture. The veal was made with a lemon-butter sauce a little thicker than I was used to. It was accompanied by spaghetti with meat sauce-overall tasty.
Here you could sit for hours, just like slipping into a hot bubble bath-it just feels so good and so needed.