Joe Rippey is one of the co-owners of Two Saints (12460 Memorial, 713-465-8967), which is presently exciting Houston's West Side diners. He's also the owner of the Vine Wine Room, located right across from the BYOB restaurant. "I am a wine drinker, and I also live three blocks from the shop. I opened the wine room because I didn't want to have to drive into town to enjoy my wine and risk drinking and driving. My partner in the restaurant, Justin Gasper, has been selling me wines for many years and has become a friend. When Azzarelli's closed, we began talking, and here we are," says Rippey.
Gasper, a graduate of the Chef's College in Austin, is the Two Saints executive chef. "I've cooked everything from four star gourmet to vegan cuisine. Here, we're doing upscale American food. Homey comfort food like mac and cheese made with four cheeses, bacon and chives. I couldn't do this by myself, so I want to recognize two great chefs, Jeremy Massudi and Kenya Berding," he adds.
When Dish visited after Two Saints had been open just four weeks, we were glad for reservations, since the crowds had already gathered and the wait was growing. The small place has a really warm atmosphere. "We were trying for a cozy, quaint, rustic and homey atmosphere," says Gasper, "and we included some couches as if you were eating in someone's home."
The food we tried from the small but refined menu was outstanding. Calamari was served with yucca fries and two spectacular sauces — one avocado and one chipotle pepper. Truffled onion rings were the find of the year; they were crispy, greaseless and served with a seriously delicious aioli. The roasted pepper fettuccine with cream sauce was hearty and delicious, and the pan-seared chicken with sage pan jus superb. The food and atmosphere of this tiny gem have already made their mark on the Houston scene.
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