Italy à la Houston

Categories: Food Nation

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Houston does not look like Florence, but it does offer similar food.
Traveling to Europe is expensive, and not everyone has the ability, time or money to make the trip. But, good news. You don't have to! You can actually stay right in Houston and visit a multitude of shops, restaurants and parks just as you would in a European country.

A few weeks ago, we wrote about several restaurants and places in Houston where you could spend the day in France. Now, we are exploring Houston's eateries and shops where you can spend the day in Italy. Buon viaggio and buon appetito!

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Photo by John Kiely
Begin your day with a cappuccino from Fellini Caffe in Rice Village.
If one thing is for sure, day plans are made around food and meals in Italy. In fact, no matter what city you are in, you can find something to eat at any hour of the day -- Florence even has a secret bakery that serves a selection of baked goods at 3 o'clock in the morning.

Set the mood for the day and walk along the Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive sidewalks overlooking the Buffalo Bayou. It's not exactly like the Arno River in Florence, and the bridges that cross the bayou are not as beautiful as the Ponte Vecchio, but it's a peaceful way to begin your morning before heading to breakfast.

Now, you won't find any lumberjack breakfasts in Italy; the first meal of the day is eaten quickly and is typically small, consisting of a pastry, hard-boiled egg with cheese and bread, or slices of melon and prosciutto, and a cup of coffee. Just about any coffee shop in Houston will supply you with a quick pastry and espresso, but Rice Village's Fellini Caffe is a little piece of Italy right here in Houston. In fact, the owners intended for it to be just like the sidewalk cafes you can find throughout the country. All of the coffee drinks are brewed from Lavazza coffee beans, popular among many Italians. Step right up to the espresso bar for an quick espresso, or sit outside and enjoy a caffe latte or cappuccino with a complimentary biscotti, or purchase one of the many pastries.

It's easy to over schedule yourself in America and give yourself way too many tasks to complete in one day, often leaving you stressed. Italians don't spend their days rushing from one meeting or appointment to the other. It's a much simpler and casual lifestyle than the one Americans lead.

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Photo by Christina Uticone
Those tomatoes would make a great bruschetta.

While living in Italy during a summer study abroad program, I found an excellent way to spend the morning was at the farmers market -- and it was one of the only ways I could get food to make in my apartment. If you're traveling through Italy in Houston on a Saturday, traipse on over to the Eastside Saturday Farmers Market and don't forget to bring your own shopping bags. Normally, Italian farmers markets are set up with farmers selling produce outside, and butchers selling beef, poultry and seafood, bakers selling pastries and breads, and shop owners selling seasonings, pastas, and prepared foods inside. At the Eastside Farmers Market, you can collect fruits and vegetables from local farmers such as Animal Farm, Atkinson Farm, Sustainable Harvesters and Knopp Branch Farm. Purchase a few cuts of meat from Georgia's Grassfed Beef or Harrison Hog Farms, then stock up on bread from Artisana Breads and Angela's Oven.

If you can walk to your home from the market, by all means, do so. Even better if you can hop on a scooter and drive back.


Location Info

Fellini Caffe

5211 Kelvin Drive, Houston, TX

Category: General

Urban Harvest Eastside Farmer's Market

3000 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: General

Patrenella's Italian Restaurant

813 Jackson Hill, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Paulie's

1834 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

D'Amico's Italian Market Cafe

5510 Morningside, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Coppa Osteria

5210 Morningside Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Ciao Bello

5161 San Felipe St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Papa Mio Italian Cafe

2006 Lexington St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Trevisio Restaurant

6550 Bertner St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Nino's

2817 W. Dallas St, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Prego

2520 Amherst, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

La Griglia

2002 W. Gray, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Drew's Pastry Place

10300 Louetta Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cafe Dolce Gelato

5135 W. Alabama, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

3215 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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5 comments
costanzaallegra
costanzaallegra

I am Italian and I leave in Houston. I have to say that although Fellini Café is trying really hard to be the real Italian bar (i.e. café), it is really far from it. 

If I have to mention a real Italian restaurant, that is Piola, Louisiana Street!

Moreover, the typical Italian breakfast is just coffee (with or without milk) or tea and carbohydrates such as cereals or cookies or croissants and fruit (fresh or squeezed), and not hard-boiled eggs with cheese or bread and prosciutto...


joyawe
joyawe

No mention of Nundini Chef's Table on Shepherd? For shame! They make awesome homemade gelato and have a deli, full service restaurant, and small import grocery market all in one place. I also spend a lot of time in Italy and have found it to be the most authentic Italian in Houston. The pizza, risotto, and fettucini with sage cream sauce and italian sausage all make me feel like I'm back in italy, and the place is surprisingly cozy and charming inside given the ugly warehouse exterior. 

Aggie_Kelli
Aggie_Kelli

Can't believe Fratelli's is not mentioned anywhere in this article, maybe people don't know that it opened back up already.

Schicchi
Schicchi

@costanzaallegra  Piola....a real Italian place run by folks who loved Italy so much...they moved to Brazil!

Gnocchi
Gnocchi

Stop BS. Piola Houston is owned and run by Italians, go check yourself

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