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Spaghetti bottarga at Valentino's

The spaghetti bottarga ($16) at Valentino's (2525 West Loop South, 713-850-9200) is an intensely flavored dish that's one-of-a-kind in Houston. Bottarga, the roe from a gray mullet fish, tastes a whole lot better than it sounds or looks and is often referred to as poor man's caviar. A lot like anchovies with a similar consistency, it gives this dish a not-unpleasant salty undertone. Leaves of wilted baby arugula, chunks of sea bass and tiny cubes of fresh tomatoes add the remaining colors of the Italian flag. It's all tossed in garlic oil, adding a final flourish of flavor.

 
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