Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Radunare Woodlands, Shake Shack Downtown

Photo by Koko Art Studio

Radunare Italian-American Table, 2520 Research Forest Drive, is expected to open mid-July in The Woodlands. The casual, all day eatery, founded by Dr. Frank Morello, will be open for breakfast, lunch, cocktails and dinner. Pronounced rah-due-nar-a, the name means to gather, or rally. Morello wants to bring customers a welcoming atmosphere with authentic Italian-American dishes inspired by generations of family recipes. Morello's roots trace back to Sicily, with his family immigrating to the United States in 1898.

For breakfast, diners can choose dishes like the Egg Panini, with scrambled eggs, Taleggio cheese, bacon, breakfast potatoes and green onions. There will also be morning fare like the Italian Sausage and Spinach Scramble and Ricotta and Berries Pancakes. Eye-opening espresso will be on the menu as well.

For the rest of the day, there's starters like the Bruschetta Board with four cheeses, mushrooms, eggplant and bell pepper Caponata, stuffed Sicialian artichokes, plus soups and salads, including Pasta e Faggioli and Watermelon-Arugula Salad.

click to enlarge Who doesn't like spaghetti and meatballs? - PHOTO BY KOKO ART STUDIO
Who doesn't like spaghetti and meatballs?
Photo by Koko Art Studio
The pasta and pizza side of the menu will offer a hearty spaghetti and meatballs, spaghetti Carbonara and seafood linguine. For vegetarians, or simply huge fans of eggplant like myself, there's the Eggplant Parmesan made from a well-guarded family recipe. Another signature item is the Sfingi di Radnunare, a dessert with lemon pastry cream.

The restaurant will have a full bar and offer beer and wine with Italian influences.There's seating for 120 guests inside plus a shaded patio for 40 more. The "old country" decor with wooden beams and exposed brick and stone offers a cozy ambiance along with the wallpaper of Morello family photos tracing the arrival of his ancestors to America.

Morello said in a press release, " I invite you to become honorary members of my large and boisterous family that cherishes togetherness and enjoys the privilege of sharing food." As a person who has married into a boisterous Italian-American family, I can attest that it's a good thing.

If you would like to join in on the fun and food, Radunare is open Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

click to enlarge Lotti Dotti Patio Bar has shade and Houston-themed cocktails. - PHOTO BY REGGIETURTLE@ICLOUD.COM
Lotti Dotti Patio Bar has shade and Houston-themed cocktails.

Lotti Dotti, 601 Richmond, opened June 15 in the space formerly known as The Brooklyn Athletic Club. It will celebrate its grand opening June 21. The new patio-centric bar and restaurant comes from Adam Dorris, whose previous bar and restaurant, Presidio, suffered a fire in October 2018. As Houstonians awaited news of its reopening, Dorris was making other plans. The chef told CultureMap Houston that he and his partners and landlord decided not to reopen the restaurant.

Dorris has brought in Michael Riojas (Beaver's, Goode Co.) as general manager and the duo have created a playful menu of cocktails, with many of them inspired by local characters and phrases sure to make Houstonians smile. The Texas Hammer is made with tequila, grapefruit, pink peppercorn, lime juice and jicama-hibiscus soda. The Slime in the Ice Machine (RIP Marvin Zindler) is a frozen tequila concoction with cachaca (a distilled liquor made from fermented sugar cane) and matcha (ground, processed green tea leaves). In my bartending days, we just put cranberry juice in everything.

click to enlarge Shake Shack offers crispy chicken sandwiches as well as delicious burgers. - PHOTO BY EVAN SUNG
Shake Shack offers crispy chicken sandwiches as well as delicious burgers.
Photo by Evan Sung

Shake Shack, 702 Main, opens June 25 at 11 a.m. The first 100 people in line will receive a Pie Oh My concrete (dense, frozen custard) for free. The new downtown burger spot should definitely be a hit for the weekday workers and also a great spot pre-game for sports fans, with 3,242 square feet of space and an outdoor patio.

Along with its classic menu of 100 percent all natural Angus burgers and griddled flat-top dogs, there will be two unique frozen concretes in collaboration with Rebecca Masson's Fluff Bake Bar. There will also be the Texas Lockhart Link Burger made with Kreuz Market's jalapeno cheese sausage that will be exclusive to Texas.

And speaking of the Lone Star State, there will be plenty of local craft brews, plus Shake Shack's exclusive Brooklyn Brewery ShackMeister Ale. If you prefer to quaff wine with your burger and crinkle-cut fries, there's the Shack Red and Shack White from the Gotham Project, a sustainable winery that produces wines on tap for a number of restaurants around the country.

In keeping with its commitment to green architecture and eco-friendly construction, Shake Shack Downtown has tabletops made by CounterEvolution using reclaimed bowling alley lanes, and chairs designed by Uhuru made with sustainable materials. As part of its Stand for Something Good campaign, the downtown location will donate 5 percent of sales from the Pie Oh My concrete to the Houston Humane Society.

Dolce Vita, 500 Westheimer, is listed for sale according to CultureMap Houston. The upscale pizzeria from chef/owner Marco Wiles is known for its Neapolitan-style pizzas and tasty small plates and pasta. It's been a Montrose favorite for over 13 years, but now that the property is on the market, loyal patrons may have to put it on their to-do list sooner rather than later.

Wiles, who also owns the fine-dining restaurant Da Marco and Vinoteca Poscol, isn't selling the concept itself. He plans to continue holding onto the Dolce Vita brand in case his son wishes to carry on with it after college. Instead, Wiles, 60, is looking to lessen his day-to-day workload. Da Marco and Poscol will remain open.

click to enlarge Sugar Land is getting toasted. - PHOTO BY RENDA HOANG
Sugar Land is getting toasted.
Photo by Renda Hoang

Toast, will open June 22 in Sugar Land. For patrons 21 and over, there will be a free mimosa to celebrate the opening while supplies last. The farm-to-table breakfast and lunch concept comes from husband and wife Renda and Tam Hoang, whose first restaurant, The Grove Do-nutz and Deli, opened in 2013 in Fort Bend.

click to enlarge Good morning, sunshine! - PHOTO BY RENDA HOANG
Good morning, sunshine!
Photo by Renda Hoang
The modern and bright space is located at The Crossing at Telfair and will have seating for 50 inside and an additional 16 seats outside. The menu will offer an array of gourmet pancakes, croissant donuts, specialty toasts, plus Vietnamese dishes like double pork chops and Shaking beef salad. There will also be a craft beer program, along with the sunny mimosas. The restaurant will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

click to enlarge Jason Liao is leaving Pokeology behind. - PHOTO BY TROY FIELDS
Jason Liao is leaving Pokeology behind.
Photo by Troy Fields

Pokeology, 2313 Edwards, closed last week, as reported by Houston Food Finder. The concept originally operated out of Doc Holliday's in Rice Village. As its popularity grew, so did plans for a brick and mortar. Charlie Chang's company Semper Fi Restaurants LLC raised funds through NextSeed and the poke restaurant opened in November 2018, as reported here in the Houston Press. Unfortunately, due to operating costs, chef Jason Liao has decided to part ways with his partners and perhaps focus on a new venture.

Beard Papa's, 9393 Bellaire Boulevard, is having its grand opening June 22 from  10 a.m. to midnight. The Japanese cream puff chain opened its first location in Katy Asian Town in August 2018. Customers can choose between different shells and fillings. There are standard choices like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, plus green tea, cookies and cream and almond flavors.

The first customers who order a dozen or more puffs will get some free swag. There's also a buy 5 cream puffs/ get 1 free original vanilla puff special. There will be food trucks throughout the day for those who want a bite to eat before dessert, or after. Mobile Mai's will be there from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. while Fat Pockets will show up from 4 p.m. to midnight. Mingo's Latin Kitchen will roll in at 6 p.m. and stay till midnight as well.

Katsu Bar and Noodle, 9296 Westheimer, celebrated its grand opening June 13. Over a two-day period, the newest location gave away 600 free meals, according to its Facebook page. The Westheimer store makes the third for the chain in Houston.

The fast-casual menu is inexpensive and diners can personalize their meals according to taste. There are options such as the  Salad It, Bowl It, Noodle It and Rice It for $9.99. There's also the Kamikaze burger with pork Katsu, spicy mayo, jalapenos, Swiss cheese and Katsu sauce for those who want to go hog wild.

Inexpensive appetizers like calamari, gyoza, chicken wings and seaweed salad are available also.

Katsu is a Japanese panko-breaded thin cutlet, usually chicken, that is hugely popular in places like Hawaii and is spreading across the continental United States as well. Katsu Bar and Noodle offers chicken, steak, fish, tofu and pork, so there are plenty of protein choices to choose from.

Carmalita's Cuisine, 1141 E. 11th, is temporarily closed as repairs are made after a pick up truck rammed through the side of the building and caught fire. Fortunately, there were no injuries as the staff were on the other side of the restaurant at 1:45 p.m. when the crash occurred, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. The timing at least was fortunate as the lunch rush had ended and there were no customers in the dining room.

While thankfully, there were no injuries, the restaurant is closed until further notice. We have reached out to Carmalita's for more information, so check back here for updates about its reopening.Then, go support the recently opened restaurant by enjoying its healthy, fresh dishes that range from Creole to Caribbean to Italian and Mexican. Carmalita's also caters to those looking for organic and gluten-free dishes.

Next Week:

B.B. Lemon Montrose  is shooting for a July 8 debut. The Union Kitchen in Cypress is coming within a week or two. Stay tuned.