In the not-too-distant past Galveston’s Italian heritage was rather unsavory. Today it is distinctly savory, especially with the arrival of Luigi’s Ristorante Italiano (2328 Strand) this past June. “I had been dreaming of having my own restaurant,” says the Sicilian-born chef and co-owner, Luigi Ferré. Last Christmas his dream came true when Galveston developer George Mitchell offered to back him. Now Luigi’s is wowing islanders with dishes like rigatoni in basil-pecan tomato pesto topped with crisp-tender slices of veal milanese rolled in bread crumbs seasoned with Parmesan and molto garlic. Serve it and you’ll be mobbed for second helpings.

Try this recipe for Rigatoni With Basil-Pecan Tomato Pesto from chef and co-owner Luigi Ferré, Luigi’s Ristorante Italiano, Galveston.