If one is in search of the classical, starting at Simposio [5591 Richmond, (713)532-0550], a restaurant presumably named after one of Plato's most famous Socratic dialogues, is a logical first step. Alberto Baffoni has earned a solid following for his northern Italian cuisine, but for the true insider, the chef's quintessentially classic rendition of osso buco ($25.95), an item that never appears on the menu, is the real draw. Short of hopping an Alitalia flight, it is the truest version a Houston diner can experience. Veal shanks are sawed into two- or three-inch lengths, then slowly braised in a mixture that always includes tomatoes, wine and aromatic vegetables such as carrots. The shanks are then placed on a bed of risotto flavored with lemon and saffron, and sprinkled with a mixture called gremolata (lemon zest, garlic and parsley). It's a good idea to call ahead to see if the osso buco is available.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.