Cafe Leonelli is the first of two new restaurants to bring Michelin star–proven chefs to the Museum of Fine Arts Kinder Building. Top New York toque Jonathan Benno is the talent behind the menu of this casual counter-service spot with all-day dining and a spectacular pastry program. The striking modern interior seats 100, and the patio can accommodate 50. Try this: For breakfast, think Italian pastries galore (sfogliatelle; a bacon, egg, and cheese cornetto), all of them scrumptious renditions from the wildly popular Leonelli Bakery, in New York. Later in the day, hearty ribollita soup with kale, country bread croutons, potatoes, and cabbage pairs well with a deli sandwich or one of the creatively flavored focaccias. Executed with authority are the beef meatballs over polenta with marinara and Parmigiano Reggiano and the roasted salmon with lemon, capers, and Swiss chard. Only the marinated shrimp with cannellini beans, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes suffered from too much salt and oil and not enough acid. Pro tip: If you’re picking up a to-go order, plan on a $10 parking tariff.
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Top New York toque Jonathan Benno is the talent behind this casual spot in the MFAH Kinder building.