Decadence Squared

At Piatto Ristorante (4925 West Alabama, 713-871-9722), the menu's description of the "asparagus special" ($9.99) had me salivating before I could read it through. It read: "fresh asparagus, lightly breaded and fried, topped with lump crabmeat and a lemon-butter white wine sauce." This gem of a dish is a standout if ever I tasted one, and it's the brainchild of Janice Carrabba, the wife of Johnny Marion Carrabba (cousin to Johnny the star). "Fried" may actually be too harsh a word for the dish. Its asparagus is enrobed in a whispery tempura-style batter that barely coats the abundant and large extra-crisp asparagus spears. At best, they're flash-fried, so that not a hint of grease remains. The crab nestles under the luscious lemon-butter sauce, and I sopped up every last drop with the homemade focaccia. The waiter, hearing my grunts and moans as I devoured the dish, came over to see if there was a problem. "Yes," I said, "there is a problem. It's all gone."

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Paul Galvani