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Where to Eat Now 2014

No. 3 Osteria Mazzantini

Houston

Photograph by Debora Smail

No chef needs a reason to open an Italian restaurant, but John Sheely has a good excuse: he’s Italian on his mother’s side. This fact gives his newest venture, six-month-old Osteria Mazzantini, a homey vibe, despite the fact that the swellegant modern space in the Galleria area is as different as it could possibly be from the small, cozy rooms of his popular, long-established Mockingbird Bistro. The menu at Mazzantini draws from sources old and new. One of them is a trove of family recipes that he remembers from visiting his aunts in Galveston four decades ago. Wisely, he has given some of these old favorites strategic makeovers—the pasta filled with calf brains, ricotta, and spinach, for instance, has been updated into ravioli with veal sweetbreads, pine nuts, and kale. Focusing on the present, he offers several takes on crudo, notably a platter of thinly sliced raw scallops spangled with ground pink peppercorns and Meyer lemon zest. Of course, for every light dish there are two lavish ones. USDA Prime strip loin steak gets the Italian treatment with a side of cipollini. A substantial veal shank is snuggled up to a fantastic Parmesan-strewn risotto and accented with lemony gremolata. The man obviously knows that in these parts, nothing succeeds like excess. Opened September 2, 2013. 2200 Post Oak Blvd (713-993-9898). L Sun–Fri. D 7 days. $$$–$$$$

 

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