Restaurant News

Openings and Closings in Houston: Good-bye, Commonwealth; Hello, The Barking Pig

Although unconfirmed, it appears that Commonwealth at 4601 Washington has shuttered its doors for good instead of simply undergoing the rebranding that we previously reported. The phone line is out of service, the Twitter page has been taken down and a reader reported an eviction notice on the door. 

The second location of Fellini Gelato and Caffé has opened its doors in City Centre at 794 Sorella. The café specializes in Italian coffee and espresso drinks, desserts and, obviously, gelato. You can also find some light Italian fare, but why do that when you can have Brazilian-grown Arabica espresso?

Rico's Morning + Noon + Night is now open at 401 Gray, with chef Jason Gould steering the ship. This particular vessel has breakfast and daytime offerings, including breakfast tacos and sandwiches, six varieties of burger, four varieties of hot dogs and truffle fries and sundry taps, bottles, wines and cocktails. There are salads, too, but let's be honest— the only greens you need at Rico's are the ones in Bagby Park.

Eric Sandler at CultureMap reports that Kristen Powell has already purchased the former Lillo & Ella space at 2307 Ella and plans to call her new restaurant The Barking Pig. Powell is the former owner of Simone on Sunset, which has since reopened under new management. The new eatery may be open as soon as late October with bar offerings and small-to-medium-sized dishes.

Houston staple The Breakfast Klub has opened a sister restaurant just around the block at 3722 Main, according to Greg Morago at the Houston Chronicle. The new location is called Signature Kafe and sports a more limited version of The Breakfast Klub menu, with one notable difference: booze. Your chicken and waffles will never have to be mimosa-less again.

Soon, you can eat like the Rockets at Chef Frank Triola's Cafe, 5740 South Wayside. Triola is known for the meals that he delivers to his client homes but, after opening his new catering kitchen, he found that people wanted to eat then and there, so it became a restaurant. He also owns Azzarelli's Cafe, but the new restaurant will be less menu-oriented and only offer a few daily Italian specials.

Akamaru Japanese Restaurant, 315 Fairview, is shuttered less than half a year after it opened, with no word on the Facebook or website as to why. However, considering the review that we published in May, it can't come as a huge surprise.

Forthcoming gastropub The Durham House is nearing its grand opening and has announced a preview dinner on October 1. The eatery is in the old Woodrows Heights location at 1200 Durham, but don't let that fool you; this is set to be a classy affair, with aged beer taps and dishes like roasted bone marrow.

Can't get over the barbecue frenzy? There's a new place in town to satisfy your craving— Drew's BBQ at 819 Richmond is now open in a 110-year-old house. The place describes itself as no frills, mom-and-pop cafeteria style barbecue that starts at 11 a.m., Thursday through Sunday, and closes when the meat runs out. 

There's more good news for barbecue lovers; Pappa Charlies has a new brick and mortar at 2012 Rusk, which began its soft opening this week. The trailer version of Pappa Charlies has often been found at Jackson's Watering Hole, where it has become a fast favorite. The owner, Wesley Jurena, has forged a partnership with 44 Farms, which will supply all of the beef for the new establishment.

Shannen Tune, former chef of Revolve Kitchen + Bar, is opening a food truck called Craft Burger, a place where you can get— you guessed it— craft burgers. There are also some incredible-sounding desserts, such as a maple bourbon ice cream shake with pecan porter stout and candied bacon mixed in. Check out Ellie Sharp's full article on Eater Houston.

Another new food truck has just hit the streets; Ninja Frog is bringing Houstonians mobile tapioca drinks and fusion food, such as tacos and noodles. You can find the truck via the Facebook page or its Roaming Hunger website. Yelp also adores the Ninja Frog, and several of the reviews recommend the meat dishes, such as Korean short ribs and chicken nuggets.

Artisana Bread is serving up fresh, French- and Italian-style baked goods at 965 Pinemont, and Yelp users are already piling on the love. Several reviews laud it as the go-to place for authentic baguettes, and every single review has a five-star rating. Keep an eye on the Twitter page for updates; perhaps there's a grand opening coming soon?

On October 2, Piada Italian Street Food will open its first restaurant outside of its native Ohio. The new addition will be located at 5801 Memorial; two more Houston locations will follow later in October. The fast-casual restaurant specializes in piadas, which are a kind of Italian burrito made with very thin, pizza-style crust, and also offers pastas and salads. Check out the menu here, including photos of those piadas.

The two new Krispy Kreme locations, one at 8611 Westheimer and one at 5611 Highway 6, are slated to open in mid-October, and this time, they really mean it. Cara Smith at the Houston Business Journal says that these two locations are imminent and two more should also open by the end of the year.

Pie Five Pizza is opening its fourth Houston location on Sept. 25 at 19325 Gulf Freeway in front of Baybrook Mall. This is another customizable, fast-cooked pizza franchise where you can order off the menu or create your own pie, which will be cooked in just 145 seconds. Pie Five emphasizes its fresh ingredients and handmade crusts, including whole grain and gluten-free.

The Gulfgate JCI Grill (or, the restaurant formerly known as James Coney Island) at 6955 Gulf Freeway has completed its renovations and has reopened with a swanky new look. Other area restaurants have been making this transition as well without undergoing a total closure. The new design is away from a fast-food image and toward fast-casual, and the brand has hired chef Matt Marcus of Eatsie Boys to assist with menu development and seasonal specials.

Know of an opening or closing that we missed? Leave us a comment or send us an email and let us know!
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Alexandra Doyle