Discovering How Damian's Cucina Italiana Has Made It to the 30-Year Mark

Categories: Local Spotlight

Dieters need not try the ravioli stuffed with sweet potato in a sage butter sauce at Damian's Cucina Italiana.
Next up was a plate of decadent ravioli, made so by a sage-butter sauce -- with strong emphasis on the butter. Filling the ravioli was a sweet potato puree that had the perfect consistency, a nice texture that wasn't the least bit runny. Best of all, the ravioli was cooked perfectly -- a task that, strangely and unbelievably, many "high-end" Italian restaurants fail at.

Damian's knows how to craft more than just pasta -- proved by its Branzino Azzurro, which made quite an impression.
After proving itself a reputable Italian restaurant through its pasta, Damian's went on to impress with its branzino azzurro, my main dish. Its sheer size -- gargantuan -- was more than enough to leave an impression. But the defining qualities of the incredibly well-grilled, herb-dusted sea bass were its freshness and its straightforward preparation.

Like the other items on Damian's menu, the fish didn't need any over-the-top sauces or crazy ingredients added to be fantastic. The accompanying garlic-sautéed spinach and cannellini carrettieri (white beans in a white wine butter with fresh tomatoes) followed this same principle. Not only were the side dishes unexpectedly delicious, they were also an excellent complement to the sea bass. For one who doesn't typically go for fish as an entrée -- or beans as a side dish -- I was quite content with my main course. Further complementing the dish was a glass of Cantina di Casteggio Oltrepo Pavese Pinot Grigio out of Lombardy, Italy.

Tiramisu, one of Italy's quintessential desserts, can be found on the menu at the 30-year-old Damian's.
A slice of tiramisu punctuated my pleasant Damian's experience. Unfortunately, tiramisu is one of the few desserts that I don't care for, so I turned to my dining companions to seek their feedback. It turns out that all four people sitting around me weren't fans of tiramisu, either. What are the chances? I guess we'll never know how Damian's tiramisu stacks up to its competition.

Despite the dessert not being up my alley, I did end my dinner on a sweet realization: I looked at the dining room, where 55-plus-year-olds dined and imbibed throughout the restaurant. I suddenly recalled the section of the Damian's Web site that I checked out prior to my visit -- the "Find your Server" section -- which lists every server's name, photo and number of years with the company so that guests can request their favorite by name when making a reservation.

Half of the servers, also leaning towards the older, rather than younger, end of the spectrum, have worked at Damian's for over 20 years. The other half have worked at Damian's for five to 12 years. And there I had it: The restaurant, its employees and its guests have been growing older together for all of these years. And it's no mystery why these folks are so loyal after one experiences the Italian restaurant's simple yet delicious menu that offers a great value, quality service and a pleasantly conservative interior. It definitely seems that the venue, its staff and its patrons will only continue to grow older -- together.

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Location Info

Damian's Cucina Italiana

3011 Smith St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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To paraphrase a commenter on EOW... 'for the old and infirm.'

WestSideBob topcommenter

Frankie B ... you're still kickin' it after all these years.  Best wishes for many more.  "Chef Bob"

Bruce_Are topcommenter

Let me get this straight. You don't like tiramisu, and neither do your tablemates.  I can see how it might not be your favorite, but can't you eat it anyway and objectively describe it?  You lost some credibility for being unable to taste this ubiquitous dessert.


Damian's is so much for the old set that it's now become hip again.

conebaby topcommenter

I am so thrilled you wrote about this restaurant, Carla. It has been on my mind, for several reasons, for several weeks now. :)


@Bruce_Are I never said that I didn't eat it - I actually ate half of it. I didn't go on to describe it because I feel that, as a non-tiramisu fan, my words would be just "meh" to others that enjoy the dessert. 

But, because you insist - the tiramisu's mascarpone layer was light and fluffy, the biscuit layer was on the drier side. This tiramisu tasted more of light chocolate than of coffee or liquor. 

Thanks for reading!


@conebaby I am glad that I got to experience it, Christina! I really enjoyed my visit - hope you will get to go in the near future!

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