Andrea Pintus left Patrenella's about a year ago, and in the last few weeks has opened his own spot, Andrea Ristorante Italiano (12513 Westheimer), with longtime chum Luigi Campioni, on the far west side of Houston. Why that location? "This is my neighborhood," he says. "I have lived out here for 14 years, and I know a lot of people in the community — and especially at church. They recommended I open up out here. So I have created a medium-priced, white-tablecloth place with a nice atmosphere and, of course, my food, which is like a tour all over Italy. Lucky for me, most of my kitchen crew followed me over here."
Andrea is proud of many of his dishes, especially the spaghetti and meatballs, which he says is "unusual to find on the menu of an upscale Italian place." He also recommends the homemade gnocchi served in a gorgonzola tomato sauce. Although Andrea is from Sardinia, when Café Bites visited his place, there were no Sardinian specialties on his menu. But that may not be permanent. "I plan to change the menu frequently, and maybe I'll have some Sardinian dishes as well. My friend Efisio Farris, at Arcodoro, does such a good job, but I've been meaning to try it out." We hope he does. — Paul Galvani
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While Patrenella's may have lost Andrea Pintus, last November it got a new space, Corleone Bar and Grill (813 Jackson Hill, 713-863-8223), which was first built last summer, then rebuilt after an electrical fire. "It's sort of an addition, not really separate," says Sammy Patrenella, "kinda like Nino's and Vincent's. It has a beautiful bar and is a really nice room." Corleone, named after the town in Sicily where Sammy's family is from, is serving the same menu as Patrenella's. What's different is the environment — the setting feels more like a modern, upscale wine bar, and it's meant to attract the younger people moving into the neighborhood. Not to worry, though: Longtime regulars can still hang out in Patrenella's dining room in Sammy's converted home. — PG