100 Favorite Dishes 2012: No. 58, Eggplant Involtini at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

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Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston® issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.

The entire name for this dish is actually involtini di melanzane alla parmigiana -- which, like most items at Lynette Hawkins's exceptional Italian restaurant, is given a full and proper Italian name -- although it's a bit too long to roll off the tongue. It's easier to just say "eggplant involtini" when you're ordering the $6 dish at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino, and the server will know exactly what you're talking about.

The "alla parmigiana" portion of the dish's name refers to the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that tops the completed involtini, but there's more to it than just the salty, hard Italian cheese. You'll find mozzarella and ricotta stuffed inside the thin strips of sauteed eggplant, which are rolled up like cannoli and baked in a creamy tomato sauce and topped with bright shreds of torn basil leaves.

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The eggplant used in this involtini dish is the perfect answer to heavier meat-based involtini as well as carb-laden pasta dishes. Sure, it's filled with all manner of cheese -- but you still come away from it feeling somehow lighter than if you'd eaten fat tubes of cannelloni filled with ricotta instead.

Of course, if you are in the mood for some serious profusion of pasta, there's always Giacomo's equally good spaghetti alla carbonara (seen above). Topped with crispy, fatty guanciale and plenty of cracked black pepper, it's as authentic as you'll get in Houston.

The list so far:

No. 100: Chili cheese mac at Jus' Mac
No. 99: Texas turkey sandwich at Spec's
No. 98: Custard at Petite Sweets
No. 97: Caprichos mixtos at Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito
No. 96: Pineapple-wasabi burger at Lankford Grocery
No. 95: Farmer's MKT Pizza at Phoenicia's MKT Bar
No. 94: Potatoes at Money Cat Brunch
No. 93: Breakfast tacos at Sunrise Taquito
No. 92: Hot dog at Tacos D.F.
No. 91: Avocado gelato at Frozen Cafe
No. 90: Chicken sandwich at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers
No. 89: Beer-battered asparagus at Hearsay
No. 88: Honey Badger omelet at Kraftsmen Cafe
No. 87: Pastelitos de carne at El Jalapeño
No. 86: Pancakes at Union Kitchen
No. 85: Wild boar and crab pizza at Boheme
No. 84: Breakfast croissant at BB Donuts
No. 83: Pretzel at Anvil Bar & Refuge
No. 82: Short rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House
No. 81: Grilled shrimp po-boy at Pappadeaux
No. 80: Dahi puri at Shiv Sagar
No. 79: Aporreado at Los Corrales
No. 78: Oxtail francobolli at Aldo's Cucina Italiana
No. 77: Tonkotsu at Cafe Kubo's
No. 76: Spinach danish from Angela's Oven
No. 75: Pupusas at El Petate
No. 74: Pheasant dog at Sammy's Wild Game Grill
No. 73: X-Tudo burger at Friends Pizzeria
No. 72: Esparragos gratinados at Tintos
No. 71: Gua bao at Yummy Kitchen
No. 70: Geisha dog at Happy Endings
No. 69: Oyster po-boy and gumbo at Goode Co. Seafood
No. 68: Ceviche at Sirena Seafood
No. 67: Caldo de mariscos at Taqueria Arandas
No. 66: Banana pudding at Pizzitola's
No. 65: Fried catfish and gumbo at Cafe-A-La
No. 64: Soft-shell crabs at Banana Leaf
No. 63: Macaroni and cheese at Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse
No. 62: Torta burger at El Gran Malo
No. 61: Black bean burger at Ziggy's
No. 60: Parillada at Pampa Grill
No. 59: Peanut butter and jalapeño jelly burger at Wicked Whisk

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Location Info

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

3215 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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That eggplant converted my husband, and he doesn't even LIKE eggplant. Now he insists we get it every time we go!

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