Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Rosalie Opens, Houston's Westheimer Closes

The timpano at Rosalie's is rustic and elegant at the same time.
The timpano at Rosalie's is rustic and elegant at the same time. Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

Rosalie Italian Soul, 400 Dallas, opened in the new C. Baldwin Hotel October 15. This is the first Houston restaurant for business partners Chef Chris Cosentino and co-owner Oliver Wharton. Cosentino has an impressive portfolio which includes Cockscomb in San Francisco, Jackrabbit in Portland, Oregon and Acacia House in the Napa Valley, all enterprises with partner Wharton. He was the Season Four winner of Top Chef Masters and has authored not only two cookbooks, but also a collaboration with Marvel Comics in which he wrote Wolverine: In the Flesh.

click to enlarge Sasha Grumman, Chris Cosentino and Oliver Wharton  are feeling happy. - PHOTO BY NURAY TAYLOR
Sasha Grumman, Chris Cosentino and Oliver Wharton are feeling happy.
Photo by Nuray Taylor
Cosentino has chosen Sasha Grumman to be the executive chef at Rosalie. While Cosentino is an Italian American from Rhode Island, Grumman comes from a Sicilian American family and has studied and staged in Italy before returning to the United States to work at Delfina in San Francisco. She also worked with Cosentino at Cockscomb, eventually ending up in Austin as chef de cuisine at Launderette. She was there nearly a year before she accepted the position at Rosalie.

The new restaurant is situated to the right of the spectacular sunken bar area of the hotel and past its "speakeasy". Rosalie was inspired by Cosentino's Italian great-grandmother and bears her name. Not only did she influence his culinary career, she is also the inspiration for the decor of the restaurant with its 1970's ambiance enhanced with vintage touches like old vinyl albums, televisions, orange banquettes and mid-century style furniture. The private dining room is more organic with lush plants, brick floors and white-washed wood accents.It was designed by Rohe Creative, based in Philadelphia, which also designed the interior lobby of the hotel.

click to enlarge Pizza at Rosalie Italian Soul. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER PHOTOGRAPHY
Pizza at Rosalie Italian Soul.
Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

Rosalie's menu will pay homage to Italian American cuisine with elevated twists. Yes, there will be Sunday gravy, the tomato sauce filled with a variety of meats that simmers on the stove for hours in Italian kitchens across the country.The eggplant parmesan will feature an entire eggplant. Clams will be served on conchiglie instead of linguine, a playful combination of seashell pasta with clams in their shell. The fresh pastas are made daily, a specialty of Chef Grumman's. The huge pizza oven will turn out delicious northeastern-style (think New Haven) pies like the Four Cheese and the Meat Lovers.

click to enlarge The private dining room at Rosalie is bright and retro. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER PHOTOGRAPHY
The private dining room at Rosalie is bright and retro.
Photo by Julie Soefer Photography
Cosentino will also fuse flavors that represent Houston with Italian standards such as the Gulf Shrimp Fra Diavolo and local blue crab manicotti with sauce Americaine. Large, shareable plates include bistecca Florentine and a whole chicken Milanese.

Rosalie Italian Soul will provide all the food to the C. Baldwin hotel, including room service, breakfast and dinner, with lunch service beginning October 23.

, 5888 Westheimer closed this past weekend. The longtime Houston favorite opened in 1980 and has been serving its traditional American bistro fare for nearly four decades. Its French dip sandwich, jumbo cocktail shrimp and spinach and artichoke dip weren't necessarily innovative, but were comfort foods to many of Houston's well-heeled clientele.

And according to its list of rules, being literally well-heeled was required. No flip flops or sandals were allowed and small children were discouraged. Its clubby feel and familiar menu was a safe spot for taking clients for a business lunch or meeting friends for dinner.

Oddly enough, Houston's was actually founded in Nashville in 1977 by George Biel and his partners and was named Houston's for his native state of Texas. Eventually, the other partners sold their shares back and Biel became the sole owner. Hillstone Restaurant Group, which manages the few Houston's locations that are left is still family owned. It also operates a number of restaurants around the country, with a few of them having been former Houston's locations which went through some name changes and re-branding.

For regular patrons and lovers of The Hawaiian, the Houston's at 4848 Kirby remains open.

click to enlarge Traveler's Table has something for everyone's taste. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GLLIAM
Traveler's Table has something for everyone's taste.
Photo by Kirsten Glliam

Traveler's Table, 520 Westheimer, opened October 17 for dinner service. The new global restaurant comes from Matthew Mitchell and is a reflection of his travels around the world, both in the decor and the menu. It's described as Bohemian and laid back with soft green banquettes and a lush patio of palms and potted plants.

While some of the dishes are iconic, creativity is the backbone of the menu. Many nations are represented with beginnings like Vietnamese Pho Soup Dumplings and Mexican Street Corn Soup. Argentinian Provelata is a shareable appetizer of seared smoked provolone, oregano chimichurri and honey, served with crusty bread.

click to enlarge You can have a threesome of mussels at Traveler's Table. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GILLIAM
You can have a threesome of mussels at Traveler's Table.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Diners can choose one of three ways to have their PEI mussels: Thai, Belgian or Spanish. The Chef's Vegetable Board is a rotating selection of five to six items which may include miso-glazed eggplant, harissa-dusted cauliflower, heirloom carrots and garlic hummus.

click to enlarge The patio at Traveler's Table is an oasis in a city of over-development. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GILLIAM
The patio at Traveler's Table is an oasis in a city of over-development.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Entrees are organized by region. Adventurers can try the Moroccan Chicken Grain Bowl or spicy cumin lamb. Those who like to stay a little closer to home can opt for shrimp and grits or The Traveler's Burger.

There is wine by the glass or bottle, local and international beers, sake and specialty cocktails. For something unique, try the Spice Traveler with vodka, ginger beer, lime, mango nectar and garam masala syrup.

The restaurant will offer lunch service and a weekend brunch in the near future.

click to enlarge Happy hour walu walu at Uchi Houston. - PHOTO BY MAI PHAM
Happy hour walu walu at Uchi Houston.
Photo by Mai Pham

Uchiko, 1801 Post Oak, will open in 2021, according to CultureMap Houston. The sister restaurant to the much lauded Uchi, will also feature Japanese cuisine. While raw dishes are still a large part of the menu, there will be more cooked items like yakitori.  This will make the second location for the concept, with the first Uchiko having opened in Austin in 2010.

Tyson Cole,  who won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2011, opened Uchi in Austin in 2003. It expanded to Houston in 2012. Its omakase is very popular with its six or ten course tasting menu. Ushiko will also offer omakase, if the Austin menu is an indicator. For those on a tighter budget, both restaurants offer a daily Sake Social with special pricing on food and drink.

Hai Hospitality has expanded the Uchi concept to include not only Houston and Austin, but Denver, which opened in October 2018. A Miami location will open soon. Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, which is based in Austin, will be in charge of the design.

Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine, 1985 Welch, is open, according to the Houston Chronicle. Yet, just how open is it?  It has been in soft opening mode since September and we have reached out several times to the restaurant for a definitive date. The regulars were quick to discover the new home of the former Danton's had opened its doors quietly and its happy hour seems to be buzzing. Currently, it is only open for dinner and happy hour, so reservations are a must.

The new restaurant takes over the space previously occupied by The Mockingbird Bistro. Owner Kyle Teas had to vacate the former Chelsea Market spot to make way for yet another apartment complex. While most of the decor and design are new, much of the staff and menu are still the same, which definitely gets a thumbs up from its loyal customers.

click to enlarge Pork Milanese and spaghetti caponata are definitely Italian at Rosie Cannonball. - PHOTO BY JUNE RODIL
Pork Milanese and spaghetti caponata are definitely Italian at Rosie Cannonball.
Photo by June Rodil

Rosie Cannonball, 1620 Westheimer, launched its lunch service October 16. The new lunch menu will be served Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner begins at 5 p.m. and the Friends and Family Hour is from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. During that time, all patrons in the bar or dining room receive 25 percent off their entire check.

Chef/partner Felipe Riccio has added a couple of new sandwiches to the menu, including the Rosie Burger ($20) plus there are five pizzas from which to choose like the Smoked Trout Roe and the Fennel Sausage. The focaccia di recco, a traditional Italian flatbread stuffed with mortadella and robiola cheese is on the appetizer side. There are hearty dishes like the Pork Milanese and Basque-style Bream with pil-pil sauce. Pil-pil is a garlic, chili pepper and olive oil emulsion traditionally made with salt cod. Riccio is using bream, a fish you rarely see on a Houston menu.

click to enlarge The Rosie Burger at  Rosie Cannonball. - PHOTO BY JUNE RODIL
The Rosie Burger at Rosie Cannonball.
Photo by June Rodil
There are plenty of vegetable options like the blistered green bean salad, which is similar to Riccio's dish served at the recent Southern Smoke festival. The charred green beans were a stand out in a bounty of grilled meat dishes.

Riccio has sous chefs Ajani Thornton and Mario Paizis in the kitchen helping him, along with Ian Payne. Payne will serve as sous chef at another Goodnight Hospitality concept, March, when it opens. Rosie Cannonball's previous chef de cuisine, Adam Garcia, has left the company.

Bonchon, 2100 Travis, will open in Midtown in 2020. The Korean restaurant is famous due to its tasty Korean double fried chicken. Founded in South Korea in 2002, it has expanded to over 330 locations worldwide with nearly a hundred in the United States. The Midtown spot is part of a fifteen store expansion, which makes the chain one of the fastest growing in the U. S.

The restaurant serves other Korean specialties like kimchi, bulgogi and japchae, a dish of stir-fried glass noodles, vegetables and marinated beef. Pork buns, chicken katsu and bibimbap are some of the other menu items. There are also local and Korean beers, wine and specialty cocktails.

click to enlarge Texans find comfort in Killen's chicken fried steak. - PHOTO BY KIMBERLY PARK
Texans find comfort in Killen's chicken fried steak.
Photo by Kimberly Park

Killen's,101 Heights, has begun doing pop-ups at the restaurant in preparation for its end of the year opening, according to the Houston Chronicle. The first one was held October 12 with comfort foods like chicken fried steak, collard greens, creamed corn and Killen's much-loved macaroni and cheese.

Ronnie Killen's seventh restaurant is taking over the longtime barbecue spot, Hickory Hollow which closed the Heights location in January. Though the interior has been demolished, the exterior will still be somewhat familiar to longtime Heights residents. The Hickory Hollow restaurant on Fallbrook is still open.

Color Factory, 3303 Kirby, is partnering with My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream and is slated to open October 26. The interactive art installation began in San Francisco in 2017. It will serve My/Mo's premium ice cream wrapped in mochi dough to attendees. Mochi is made typically of sticky rice.

click to enlarge Chef Sunil Srivastava showcases the progression of Indian cuisine at Verandah. - PHOTO BY SUNIL SRIVASTAVA
Chef Sunil Srivastava showcases the progression of Indian cuisine at Verandah.
Photo by Sunil Srivastava

Verandah Progressive Restaurant, 3300 Kirby, has launched a new tasting menu entitled " The Forgotten Cuisines of India". It's a five course menu, beginning with street food that represents eastern India. It continues with kabobs of northern India, a southern Indian curry, a protein course of either duck or lamb, ending with dessert. The cost is $85 per person for the dinner alone or $150 with wine pairings. Tax and gratuity are not included. Reservations are recommended.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.