No. 8 Coltivare
This rustic Italian restaurant opened to such anticipation that you would have thought the people in line were waiting to get into a Beyoncé concert. A year later, customers know the drill: get on the list, order a drink from friendly bartender and co-owner Morgan Weber, and wander around the garden inspecting the baby lettuces and herbs. The chef here is 42-year-old Ryan Pera, and besides his stupendous black-pepper-and-pecorino spaghetti, you must try his startlingly orange ’nduja. Spunky with Harlingen chiles, the soft sausage is lush with fat from heritage pigs raised on Weber’s family farm. Pizza is always good to share; try the house-made pepperoni with local greens. And should you make it as far as an entrée, a great choice is the fragrant roasted whole fish. After that you may be stuffed to the gills, so come back another time. You know the drill.
Opened January 16, 2014. 3320 White Oak Dr, Houston (713-637-4095). D Mon & Wed–Sun. Reservations not taken.