Count me among those who are smitten with the fantastic regional Italian food at Da Marco. The little central Houston cottage—with its white tablecloths and walls painted in tones of sunflower and daffodil—is enchanting, and chef-owner Marco Wiles is practiced in the art of seduction. His rustic cauliflower soup leads you on with a dab of butter and a crumble of pancetta. His gorgeous salad (above) of shaved celery, sliced beets, and pecorino flirts with you shamelessly. The next thing you know, you’re in over your head with the pork shank (incomparably tender and scattered with bits of citrusy gremolata) and led hopelessly astray by the cannoli (stuffed with fabulous chocolate-studded ricotta). But don’t worry; the staff will still respect you the next time you dine there.
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