Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Revival Market Has Closed, Mandola's Trio Shutter Today

The end of an era and delicious Italian and Sicilian food.
The end of an era and delicious Italian and Sicilian food. Photo by The Mandola Family

Nino's, Vincent's and Grappino di Nino, 2817 W. Dallas, will close August 5 after the final dinner service. The three concepts were part of Tuscan Villa, a two and a half-acre development owned by the Vincent Mandola family. The development has been bought by an affiliate of the Oxberry Group and TKG Capital Partners. The co-developers plan to turn the buildings into a new dining destination called the "Harlow District".
Nino's with the 1970s skyline of Houston.
Photo by The Vincent Mandola Family
Vincent and Mary Mandola opened the first restaurant, Nino's, in 1977. The childhood sweethearts were proud to share authentic Italian and Sicilian recipes from their families and also, their travels abroad. Eventually, the city block was transformed into the Tuscan Villa with the addition of Vincent's and Grappino di Nino. Their daughters, Vinceanne and Dana, joined the family business in the 1990s, working alongside their parents.

Sadly, Vincent, or Bubba as he was called, died in July 2020. Vincent Mandola was part of the Houston restaurant royalty which included brothers Damian and Tony Mandola, cousin Frank Mandola, nephew Johnny Carrabba and Tony's wife, Phyllis Mandola, who was the daughter of Ninfa "Mama" Laurenzo.
Mary and Vincent Mandola proudly pose with their daughters and their restaurant.
Photo by The Vincent Mandola Family
In a press release Mary Mandola and her daughters said, "We would like to thank our amazing family, friends, guests and staff for the past 45 years. We are so proud of what we have accomplished over the years. We are excited to see the new venues created within the establishments that held so many of our cherished memories."

The Oxberry Group and TKG Capital Partners will begin revamping the area this fall and leasing opportunities are available at the soon-to-be Harlow District. Its first concept is expected to open in late 2022. 
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Revival Market wraps up after 11 years.
Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

Revival Market, 550 Heights Boulevard, closed July 31. The craft butcher shop and cafe was first opened in March 2011 by Agricole Hospitality owners Morgan Weber, Ryan Pera and Vincent Huynh. It was a novel concept at the time. While craft butchery has now taken its place along craft "everything," 11 years ago it was not on most people's radars, even "foodies." Revival Market also sold specialty grocery items and offered a cafe and a variety of coffee drinks. It hosted butchery classes as well as sommeliers offering wine education.

The trio at Agricole decided not to renew the lease on the space. However, Layne Cruz, Revival's current general manager, is developing a new restaurant concept, Lagniappe Kitchen & Bar, which will open later this year. Employment at the new concept will be offered to the current staff at Revival Market.
Cured meats and specialty ingredients could be found at Revival Market.
Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins
Weber, Pera and Huynh said that as they neared the end of the lease, they took the opportunity to access the future of Revival Market. The trio made a statement in a press release that read, "Running Revival has been one of the most impactful experiences of our lives and it was truly what birthed what is now known as Agricole Hospitality." They also said that there is no one else they would rather see lead the Revival space into a new chapter than Cruz, who began her career with Agricole Hospitality as a server at Coltivare before her management positions at Revival Market.

As for the new concept, Lagniappe, Cruz says, "We're keeping many of the foundational aspects of Revival intact, including a fun, eclectic assortment of wines, a great coffee program and a rotation of our favorite dishes, but we are sprucing up the interior."

The space began renovations August 1 but nearby residents can drop in from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. to purchase coffee drinks to-go for a sneak peek at what Lagniappe will have to offer. There will be specialty coffees like NOLA Latte, New Orleans Iced Mocha, a variety of cold brews and teas such as Chai Latte and Hibiscus. For a "lagniappe," customers can add vanilla, caramel, mocha or chicory for an additional cost.
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The last one standing is about to close.
Photo by The Tasting Room
The Tasting Room, 818 Town and Country Boulevard, will close its doors permanently after service August 27. The reason cited is the landlord's abrupt notification last week that the lease would not be renewed. The CityCentre location's closure brings to an end the run for the acclaimed wine bar and restaurant which was opened by Jerry and Laura Lasco in 2002. In all, there were four locations of The Tasting Room across Houston. Its iconic Uptown Park location closed in May 2020. The couple also founded LASCO Enterprises LLC in 2002, which operates MAX's Wine Bar, Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden, Black Door Wine Club and LASCO Services. The company will offer staff positions at other LASCO restaurants.
There's still time for another luxurious Caymus Wine Dinner.
Photo by The Black Door Wine Club
Until its closing, The Tasting Room will continue to participate in Houston Restaurant Weeks with a four- course menu ($55) available for dinner. It begins with first course options such as Burrata Caprese, Octopus Carpaccio or Gulf Snapper Ceviche followed by a second course with choices like Italian Meatballs, Smoked Short Rib Empanadas or Charred Brussels Sprouts. The entree course offers Grilled Gulf Snapper, Prime NY Strip, Spicy Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti or a vegetarian-friendly Asparagus Spinach Fettucine. For dessert, guests may choose from Lemon Berry Semifreddo, Goat Cheese Cheesecake, Dark Chocolate Truffle Torte and White Chocolate Pecan Bread Pudding.

For loyal patrons, there is still time to take advantage of deep wine discounts all month plus two more Tips and Tasting Events August 4 and August 18. There will also be a special Caymus Wine Dinner August 23 and a final farewell party August 27.

Doves Restaurant & Lounge, 5524 Richmond, is shooting to open August 31, as reported by EaterHouston. HW Hospitality Group, with business partners Touche Harvey and Frederick Wilson, is bringing a fine dining Southern restaurant to the Galleria. Leading the kitchen will be Chef Tiffani Janelle along with an all-female culinary staff.

The Southern-inspired menu will be one of upscale comfort food with elevated cooking techniques and Southern Creole influences. Janelle has a personal chef resume of cooking for celebrities such as Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith, NFL running back Adrian Peterson and Houston's own Beyonce.

The interior will seat 99 guests while a patio will offer space for 30 more and will have its own happy hour.

According to its Facebook page, the restaurant is hosting a hiring fair at Hotel Derek, 2525 W. Loop South, August 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. A number of hospitality positions are available.
The Elote for the veg-heads and the O.G. for the meatheads.
Photo by Zalat Pizza
Zalat Pizza, 2303 W. Holcombe, opens August 9 in the Medical Center. This will be the sixth location for the cult-favorite pizza concept in Houston within just nine months. It has developed a following for its creative pies, quality ingredients and late night availability. The late night hours vary during the week. The new store will offer take-out and third party delivery, with limited seating inside.

Zalat was founded by Khanh Nguyen in Dallas in 2015. The house-made dough and homemade sauce, made with oven-roasted Roma tomatoes and fresh basil, was part of its success but it also earned fans with its quirky and unique creations. Pizza lovers (and who isn't?) will find whimsically named pies like The Sweet Revenge, Pineapple Express and Pho Shizzle, a pizza topped with chicken, red bell peppers and caramelized onions, a drizzle swirl of hoisin and sriracha and garnished with basil and cilantro. In a city that loves its Vietnamese cuisine, this is a popular option.

Other fun flavors include Elote, Nashville Hot Chicken and Pickles and Loaded Notato. There's plenty of sausage, salami or all-beef pepperoni for meat lovers but vegetarians will appreciate the Pesto Veggie or Margherita.
Even vegans can satisfy their cravings at Freebirds.
Photo by Allie Martinez
Freebirds World Burrito, 9910 Gaston, opens August 16. The Katy grand opening will be a family-friendly, free public event with swag, food samples and yard games. The first 25 guests in line will receive free burritos for a year, one per week for a total of 52. How many calories that totals, we don't know. The launch begins at 10:30 a.m. with a ribbon cutting with the Katy Chamber of Commerce.

Leading up to the grand opening, the restaurant will be hosting fundraisers with Sunshine Kids, a non-profit helping children with cancer,  August 13 followed by a fundraiser for the Morton Ranch High School Swim Team August 14.

The Texas burrito chain has 60 locations throughout the state and offers customizable burritos and bowls with options for everyone be they carnivore or vegan. It also has gluten-free items along with soy-free Vegan Chorizo from Abbot's Butcher.
McDonald's knows we like it hot. Real hot.
Photo by McDonald's Corporation
McDonald's restaurants brought back Spicy Chicken McNuggets August 2 for a limited time at participating locations. First introduced in 2020, the nuggets are made with all-white meat then breaded with a sizzling hot tempura coating of cayenne and chili peppers.

As a cooling foil to the spicy nuggets, participating Greater Houston McDonald's have added Frozen Dr Pepper to the frozen drinks menu which also includes Frozen Coca-Cola, and Fanta Blue Raspberry.  For a limited summer appearance, McDonald's has also added Frozen Minute Maid Slushies in Strawberry Watermelon and Tropical Mango flavors.

Feng Cha, 7036 FM 1960, opened mid-July in the Humble/Atascocita area. This is the third Houston location for the boba tea franchise which has locations in ten states. There are three more planned for the Greater Houston area in the Heights, Katy and Conroe.

Customers can order for pick-up or enjoy their beverages on site. There are a variety of drinks including Oreo Cheese Milk Tea, Coconut Latte, Vietnamese Coffee and fruit teas such as Kiwi Basil Green Tea. The dirty boba (chewy brown sugar) is popular and the Creme Brulee Dirty Boba is the way to go. It also offers a selection of "Breezes' like the slushie Taro Breeze or Mango Breeze.

In addition to the beverages, Feng Cha has a menu of Milk Foam Cakes, pretty little sponge cakes topped with creamy milk foam. Flavors include Matcha Love, Strawberry Princess and Sea Salt Pearl.
Chicago pizza is thin at Crust.
Photo by Dillan Juul
Crust Pizza Co., 27008 Northwest Freeway, opened July 14 in Cypress. There are plans to open another location on Barker Cypress soon plus additional restaurants in Richmond, Houston Heights and a second Kingwood location.

The pizza is Chicago thin-style and patrons can choose one of the gourmet pies or build-your-own. There are salads, flatbread sandwiches, pastas and starters such a boneless wings and pepperoni rolls. In addition to soft drinks, there is wine and beer at the new Cypress restaurant.

The specials at this location include Kids Eat Free Tuesday and Half Off Wine Wednesday. Customers can enjoy their meal at the restaurant or order ahead for curbside pick-up. There is also a patio for outdoor dining. 
Chef Brian Sutton has big shoes to fill.
Photo by Jenn Duncan

The Annie Cafe & Bar and Turner's, 1800 Post Oak Boulevard, have announced a new executive chef for both Berg Hospitality concepts. Brian Sutton joined the team earlier this summer and has been refreshing the menu which rolled out for lunch and dinner July 29. Sutton is the successor to Robert Del Grande, the James Beard Award-winning chef who stepped down this past May from his longtime role as executive chef. Del Grande plans to enjoy life with his family while still serving as Chef Emeritus
Chicken Fried Denver Steak is worth saving up calories for.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Sutton hails from Colchester, England and has more than 26 years of experience in the hospitality industry. His global resume includes building and operating culinary programs around the world and he has worked with such culinary luminaries as Daniel Boulud and Gunter Seeger.

While Sutton has put his stamp on some of the original dishes, he has also added some new items such as a Wednesday night special of Duck Leg Confit and brunch dishes like Orecchiette and Crab Cake Benedict.
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The Grilled Shrimp Salmoriglio is a tasty way to start an Italian summer holiday in Houston.
Photo by Forward Social
Frank's Americana Revival, 3736 Westheimer, is offering a special menu for August that will benefit No Kid Hungry. The Italian Summer Holiday Dinner is a three-course menu for $49. For each special menu ordered, Frank's will donate $5 to No Kid Hungry, a campaign to end childhood hunger and poverty.

For the first course, guests may choose Farm Greens, Polpette, Grilled Shrimp Salmoriglio or Fried Calamari. The entree options include Gnocchi Marinara, Pork Chop Milanese and Smoked Salmon Pasta. For dessert, there's Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet or Apple Crostata.
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You might as well be hot on the inside, too.
Photo by Christian Pena
Clutch City Cluckers, 1411 Westheimer, will have a grand opening August 26 through August 28. It will be the sixth location for the food truck overall and the fourth in Houston. The first 100 customers in line August 26 and August 27 will receive a free meal. Throughout the grand opening weekend, the entire menu is 50 percent off. 
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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.