Afternoon Delight

Was it owner Bob Cobb or his chef at the Brown Derby who peered into the icebox late one night in 1926 and put together that now-famous American classic, the chopped cobb salad? Doesn't matter, because it was Texan Tony Vallone (or his chef) who put the Italian into the insalata. The Italian chopped cobb salad ($11.95) at La Griglia (2002 West Gray, 713-526-4700) is a Houston classic. They've got the basics: lettuce, chicken, bacon, blue cheese and tomatoes. But they spice it up a notch with Italian salami, provolone and Italian vinaigrette. Actually, La Griglia uses two kinds of lettuce: romaine and iceberg. And they chop the ingredients into tiny mouthwatering bites, mixed right at the table, then doused with the spicy dressing. The result is delicious, light and likely to be large enough to share with your lunchtime companion. (Particularly if you're already heavy into the breadbasket of anti-Atkins Parmesan bread sticks and little pizza slices.) Throw in a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and you're steeled for whatever the afternoon brings.

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Marene Gustin