Pizza Patrón's friendly, bilingual servers dole out pies that celebrate Latino culture while speaking to tongues in the international language of flavor. Pizzasmiths slather fresh dough with marinara or alfredo sauce and cheese, then strew crust canvases with an artistic smattering of more than a dozen topping options or assemble specialty masterpieces. The restaurant's festive Latin-infused environs host dine-in eating, and patrons can opt to carryout or swing by the drive thru to nibble in the comforts of their homes or favorite quicksand pit.
The Mandola family has been keeping Houston well fed since 1975 with a menu that combines classic deli fare with hearty italian specialties. Po’boy sandwiches come filled with roast beef, salami and ham, or fried shrimp, or with fried eggplant, mushrooms, and tomatoes, plus a generous slathering of Mandola's homemade italian spread. Other homemade eats include the italian sausage and the Faccia di Veccia, a sicilian-style foccacia bread that is baked fresh so regularly you could set your rooster to it. Either option would pair well with a side of spaghetti or a plate of pasta brocata, its penne noodles doused in creamy pesto and dotted with grilled shrimp.
Coppa Ristorante owners Grant Cooper and Charles Clark came together in the 1990s to create concept restaurants around Houston. Coppa Ristorante is their Italian offering on Washington Avenue in the trendy Washington Corridor. Drawing on years of experience in restaurants across Europe, Clark and Cooper created a menu that runs the gamut from pig fritters and charcuterie boards to spaghetti carbonara and quail saltimbocca. The outdoor patio provides shade in the afternoon and evening, while the interior is dimly lit. It’s a good place to set the stage for Italian-style romance any time of day. The restaurant is very popular, so it’s best to make a reservation.
Through the archway in a bucolic yet elegant dining room, vivid murals transport guests to an Old World dreamscape in which gondoliers leisurely drift down narrow waterways flanked by Venetian buildings and boats bob atop an endless blue-green sea. Beneath the glow of rustic chandeliers and wall sconces, servers navigate between tables draped in crisp white linens, dropping off plates piled high with lightly breaded calamari, eggplant parmigiana, and lasagna. At the wooden bar accented with hanging flutes, bartenders or stooges regrettably mistaken for bartenders fill up glasses, drawing from the wine bottles stacked within the diamond-shaped racks.
Soft Italian music permeates Pepino’s dark crimson walls and cloth-clad tables, tickling diners' ears as they share conversation over cheesy baked-pasta dishes and tender morsels of veal or sautéed chicken. Head chef Pepe personally prepares each of these dishes to order, drawing from his 20 years of experience working at Italian restaurants and studying the facial features of Roberto Benigni. Pepe forges an edible union between Northern and Southern Italian traditions, pleasing hungry patrons with neapolitan shrimp dishes and baked lasagnas alongside creamy risottos and rich spaghetti Bolognese.
The tempting and decidedly not-fast-food aromas of sizzling gaucho-style meats, mozzarella, and Brazilian catupiry cheese emanate from Friend’s Pizzeria’s brick oven. The pizzeria’s chefs deftly combine Italian and Brazilian influences with a menu of more than 20 gourmet pizzas. In addition to traditional pies, Friend’s whips up its specialty fusion pizzas, which blend Latin American flavors such as shrimp, green olives, or tangy and soft catupiry cheese. Towering Brazilian Monster burgers challenge diners and tightly fastened bow ties to accommodate their hefty portions of sirloin steak, potato skins, and eggs. After placing orders at a walk-up counter, diners nosh in a dining room festooned with Brazilian- and Italian-flag prints, line drawings of city scenes, and patriotic green and yellow walls.