Complex Cuisine

The three cheese and risotto torta ($11.95) at benjy's (2424 Dunstan, 713-522-7602) is a study in complexity and intensity. The perimeter of the plate is a ring of color -- half green from the creamiest of creamed spinach, half bright red from a tomato-basil ragout. In the middle of the plate sit two orange wedges of risotto -- one flat, the other on its side -- crisp on the outside from being grilled. A tower of finely sliced squash is hidden neatly under a thin, flat Parmesan cheese crisp. Cheese is the dominant flavor here; besides Parmesan, there's Pecorino Romano in the risotto and Manchego in the spinach. The dish is finished with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar for added intensity.
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Paul Galvani