Discount Dining: Quattro at the Four Seasons

Photos by Minh T Truong
Vitello e Tonno Tonnato recently offered a $40 voucher for $20 to Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel. It just so happens Chef Maurizio Ferrarese's will be one of the contenders in the Who's Your Chef? competition at the upcoming Italian Expo, so this was a good opportunity for me to try some of his modern Italian fare.

The restaurant's casual yet elegant atmosphere was a welcome surprise as I expected something stuffier, but the service is just as you would expect from the Four Seasons. The waiter didn't bat an eyelash when we let him know we would be sharing small plates instead of ordering entrees. I decided to try a few of Chef Maurizio Ferrarese's top picks noted on the menu with a chef's toque.

The Vitello e Tonno Tonnato, a traditional Northern Italian dish of veal with seared tuna, tonnata sauce, puffed pantelleria capers and anchovies, arrived first. The plate was beautifully presented, each ingredient arranged where with one movement your fork could pick up every ingredient at once. The veal and tuna were perfectly cooked but the next taste in my mouth was that of salt, large grains of sea salt. The tonnato sauce did little to help as that too was over-salted and the texture slightly gritty. I felt the dish could have really benefited from a little acid, just a spritz of lemon or some fresh tomatoes.

Schiacciata Prosciutto e Arugula and Ravioli di Carciofi
Next came the Ravioli di Carciofi, hand-filled artichoke ravioli with snail ragout. The dish was accented with a butternut squash puree and zucchini flower "chips." The fresh ravioli was perfectly al dente, the artichoke filling melting perfectly into the pasta. The snail ragout worked well and overall, it was a very successful dish.

The last dish was the Schiacciata Prosciutto e Arugula, a very simple flat bread with cured ham, arugula and gorgonzola. The ham -- which could have brought too much salt to the table again -- was actually mild, and the cheese and arugula were good companions. The schiacciata was inoffensive but unexceptional. I was hoping for more flavor and more crispness in the bread.

So would I return to Quattro without a discount? I may give it another shot and try the entrees as they do change seasonally. The server also let us know of their Sunday Brunch buffet that sounds promising but mostly I want to explore more of the chef's take on modern Italian.

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Location Info


1300 Lamar St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Turtle Heart
Turtle Heart

Puffed Pantelleria capers? What kind of wine went with all that salt? These plates sound interesting but I have yet to ever see food presented or ordered like this in Italy, anywhere, but maybe I live a sheltered life. It is curious to see food made in America that is called "Italian", yet the Italians rarely know about these dishes themselves. I ask.


There are actually four dollops of the sauce, two are just hidden by the greens. I've had this dish numerous times and it is really great. One of my favorites.


The Vitello e Tonno Tonnato looks naked, like it's missing the flavorful mayo-anchovy sauce. Try the version at Sapori. Alberto Baffoni makes the best in Houston.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

At the Chef's suggestion, I tried the Ravioli di Carciofi, hand-filled artichoke ravioli with snail ragout last night, and it was stunning. The hand-filled ravioli was utterly delicate, the flavors were unexpected. I was ambivalent about the snail ragout before trying it, but I'm glad I did.  He mixes the artichoke juice with a demi-glace and a hint of mint - like Minh said, he does so successfully. Chef Maurizio is not only Italian by descent, but he also came directly from a year-long stint at the Four Seasons in Florence. The handmade pasta and the risotto at Quattro are without a doubt as good as you'd find in Italy. 

Minh T Truong
Minh T Truong

I actually had some champagne that evening...the Poema Cava...their wine list does have quite a bit of variety....the Vitello e Tonno Tonnato may be a traditional dish but I think this was definitely a twist on it.

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