Walking up the stairs to the in-house bakery at Damian's Cucina Italiana, I see dead people...in a good way. The walls are lined with photographs and memorabilia chronicling jubilant patrons and professional staff who have passed through this restaurant over its more than 30-year history. Clearly, good times have been had by many, including this reporter, whose handful of visits to Damian's in the past decade have left her with a penchant for the restaurant's tortellini, veal piccata and old-school servers, many of whom have worked there for multiple decades.
What's remarkable, however, is that as much as one assumes one is completely familiar with a favored restaurant, there may still be significant gaps in knowledge. Case in point: Damian's, which unbeknownst to me and, I venture, other Houstonians, has from its opening had its own bakery, located on the second floor.
This operation is responsible for virtually all of Damian's specialty sweet and savory carbohydrates: the soft, oversize bread bowls for the restaurant's famous lobster bisque; the fragrant focaccia served complimentary to each table; and the brilliant, boozy tiramisu layered with rum-flavored mascarpone, espresso-soaked ladyfingers and chocolate.
The bakery is small, well-lit, impeccably clean and led by two senior staff members, Flora and Alejandro. The former churns out all the treats, which also include sea salted caramel cake, carrot cake and Italian cream cake.
Damian's serves these desserts in single portions to its in-house diners, but also offers larger sheets and trays for sale to those looking to wow party or dinner guests. Finally, those in the know (now, you) might also be interested in the bakery's off-the-menu holiday specialties such as the faccia di vecchia and panettone bread pudding, both of which require advance ordering.
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So, the "secret" is out and how sweet it is.