Tommaso's Italian Grill warms bellies with a menu of American favorites and pizzas concocted from house-made dough and freshly made sauces. The chefs hand-toss dough ($7+ for cheese and one topping) and artfully decorate disks with jalapeño, hamburger, and spinach ($1.25+/topping) before hanging them on the back diners' chairs. Between bites of hot wings ($5.99 for seven), guests can solicit investment advice from a collection of sage bobbleheads on a windowsill or catch reflections of a double meat burger ($6.99) on the surface of a hanging disco ball. Augment a selection of pastas ($7.99+) with homemade sauces—such as simple garlic and olive oil or a protein-rich meat sauce—and top dishes off with a pair of meatballs ($2) or a sextet of shrimp ($4).
The sub-making professionals at Quiznos design a menu stacked with an expansive selection of speedy snacks, including soups and salads. A fleet of classic subs ($4.49–$7.29) waits to dive into mouths, as do flatbread sammies ($3) and chopped salads ($3.19–$5.99). For a trimmer sandwich take, try the Torpedo ($4) or Bullet ($3) sizes—longer, leaner baguettes packed with yummy stuffings, from the pesto turkey's mozzarella, turkey, and basil pesto to the Italian's heaping piles of ham, salami, capicola, and pepperoni. Avoid deathbed laments to your increasingly exasperated butlers with today’s Groupon to Quiznos, providing a dependable lunch option, park-bench dinner, or appropriate meal to be seen eating at a stoplight.
With parents hailing from Sicily and Naples, Anthony Russo enjoyed an Italian upbringing. By age 12, he spent much of his time in the kitchen, learning to prepare Old World recipes with his family and family friends. And from the flurry of Italian phrases and conversation, one quote of his father's stuck with him most: "If you can't make it fresh, don't serve it!"
Several decades later, Anthony has hand-tossed his own Italian restaurant franchise and, true to his father's words, employs fresh ingredients in the same family recipes that were passed down to him. Amid exposed brick and walls the warm hue of marinara, skilled chefs craft New York–style brick-oven pizzas with toppings such as spinach, sundried tomatoes, and capers. Servers stand ready to answer questions about the restaurant’s wine lists, letting guests know which wines pair best with the Pizzotto sandwich or whether pinot noir can really turn dogs invisible.
Since its inception in 1974, Birraporetti's has melded Italian cooking with a traditional Irish-pub atmosphere, serving hand-tossed pizzas baked in their stone oven alongside robust Irish coffee and spirits. CBS Houston highlighted its oven-fired pizzas as some of the best in the city, specifically lauding the house bianco pizza for eschewing traditional ingredients such as tomato sauce and shredded copies of the Mona Lisa. The kitchen remains open until midnight to accommodate late-night cravings, yet the chefs still rise in time to serve Sunday jazz brunches replete with made-to-order waffles, omelets, and desserts served amid live jazz performances.
Sounds of laughter and clinking glasses resound through the colorful walls of Madres Restaurant’s expansive dining room, where families and friends convene over authentic Mexican dishes morning and night. In the kitchen, chefs tend grills that sizzle with fresh steaks, seafood, and vegetables, whipping up specialties such as tender carne asada or creamy chicken poblano. Pots simmer with more than 10 varieties of meat, seafood, and vegetarian enchiladas.
Out in the dining room, dishes are joined by fruity margaritas and imported Mexican beers atop numerous tables and cushy booths. Warm lanterns and lush plants dangle from the ceilings, and ornamental Mexican artwork adorns the walls. Outside, an awning shades a front patio from the sun, rain, and falling anvils.
In 2011, King’s first year in business, owner Johann Sitter had to expand his space from a 40-seat dining room to a 200-seat restaurant and beer garden. The customer response aligned with the press response: That same year, Houston Press included King’s sausage sampler on their list of 100 Favorite Dishes and in 2012, GermanDeli.com voted King's the Best German Restaurant in America. They were excited to find the restaurant served “the kind of hearty yet fresh sausages and schnitzels that Houston has long lacked,” and singled out the weisswurst for having “the texture of sifted pate, light and airy.”
In addition to meals built from family recipes, patrons can revel in an extensive selection of German brews. Beer tour samplers allow guests to sip on four or all of the draft beers, but those ready to commit to a single draft can sign a marriage certificate for a 3-liter das boot. Thursday through Saturday, groups can listen to live music from German house bands on the beer garden.