Troy Fields

Fake risottos abound in Houston. So many restaurants put something on the menu called "risotto" that ends up being just rice cooked in broth with some cream thrown in. Good risotto starts with using the correct rice, like short-grained Arborio from Italy. Mascalzone, thankfully, understands this. As a result, its risotto is everything it should be. It's creamy. The grains are tender and a spoonful holds its shape as it should. Mascalzone offers its risotto with four different additions: vegetables, veal, mushrooms or seafood. Any risotto lover should be able to find a perfect match.

Photo by Troy Fields

Mexico is not known for its wine (yet), so what's a sommelier at a seafood-driven Mexican restaurant to do? Make new rules. Beverage director and sommelier Sean Beck went through the same challenge when developing the wine list at Hugo's and brought that experience to bear when it was time to pair wine with Caracol's coastal cuisine. The selections are often surprising and yet make complete sense. French Champagne is terrific with briny oysters, while dry Australian Riesling offsets clams perfectly. Italian Barolo matches grilled prime rib eye and garlicky mushrooms. At Caracol, even the most jaded wine connoisseur can find new adventures, like Gerovassiliou Malagousia from Greece with Caracol's signature wood roasted oysters.

Photo by Troy Fields

After spending years as the bread purveyor of choice for Houston's finer restaurants and retailers, baker Heath Wendell finally has a retail bake shop. In the mornings, the glass case full of glazed, filled and iced doughnuts will soften the heart of even the most hardcore carbohydrate hater. A cup of coffee or an espresso drink, made with Amaya Roasting Company's beans, is the perfect morning companion for these sweet treats.

It was cause for rejoicing to hear that one of Houston's best-loved pizza joints was opening a second location on the border of Montrose and Midtown. Black-tiled, fire-breathing, twin monsters of pizza ovens stand guard in the kitchen. One crispy-edged Neapolitan pizza after another is rescued from these ovens on busy nights. The topping combinations are unique and high quality. Examples include the Fino, with smoky speck, mozzarella and plenty of garlic, and the Campania, with red sauce, roasted crimini mushrooms, artichokes, cotto (cooked) ham, black olives, basil and mozzarella. Pizaro's is BYOB and glassware is readily available. Pizza this fine demands good wine to go with it.


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