My Chicken Parmesan Quest Continues at George's Pastaria

It's just been a real, chicken parm-y kind of week, guys. First I went bonkers for the Burger King Italian Chicken Sandwich, and then my husband pointed me to George's Pastaria on South Dairy Ashford, where he promised me that the chicken parmesan was the best he has had since moving to Texas.

Generally speaking, I'm the one dragging my husband around the city, telling him where and what to eat. Between the writers here at EOW, the commenters (you guys know your stuff), and the various other Houston food blogs I read while I should be working in my spare time, that's a lot of stuff to eat. Josh is in charge of food at home, but I definitely take the lead when it comes to restaurant dining, so he was pretty psyched to discover George's on his own and he insisted I get the chicken parmesan.

"But, honey, you know I don't really do chicken parm at restaurants. What else is good?" I inquired. Josh replied, "I have no idea -- I've never ordered anything else."

Sitting down outside for a late afternoon lunch, I had a crisis: The menu was full of dishes I would normally order, like Tuscan ziti, eggplant parm and an Italian beef sandwich that sorely tempted my willpower. I persevered and ordered the chicken parmesan with a side of veggies but couldn't resist adding a bowl of George's "Famous" chicken and leek soup, as I have a real thing for leeks.

Like most cream-based soups, this one doesn't photograph terribly well but it does taste in-freaking-credible. This was a hearty and comforting way to start my meal, and so rich it made me glad I ordered veggies, not pasta, on the side of my entrée. My waitress claimed that this soup has been on the menu since George's opened, 25 years ago, and it's not hard to taste why: It's creamy, studded with chunks of potato, and begging for a piece of bread to be dragged through it (I obliged).

The chicken parmesan was truly the chicken parm of my childhood -- it tasted like Sunday at Gram's house. Pounded out thin, perfectly coated with Italian breadcrumbs (not too much, not too little), covered in bubbling, toasty mozzarella cheese and smothered in a clearly homemade tomato sauce; you can see the small dice of fresh tomatoes peeking out from under the hood of the cheese. It's a trick of perfect parm, getting the breading properly stuck-on enough to withstand the moisture of sauce and the weight and pull of melted mozzarella, and George's doesn't miss the trick. The portions were big (I took half home), the prices reasonable ($20 including tip, all told), and I've finally solved the mystery of why Josh isn't always hungry for dinner when he gets home from work.

Between the neighborhood feel of the restaurant, and the solid homestyle-Italian menu, I've been very much charmed by George's Pastaria; it's not hard to see why they've been around for a quarter-century. This was a pleasure to discover, and proof yet again of how much great food is outside the loop.

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