One of the key characteristics of Italian food is its simplicity—usually, dishes are based on an unembellished sauce, fresh pasta, a few vegetables or morsels of fish and meat, and some cheese and herbs. When done well, the simple combination reveals a rainbow of complex flavors. This simplicity is what Brooklyn Phil's strives for, building their mission on two equally simple goals: fresh food and attentive service.
For their part, the chefs make everything fresh to order, practicing their art in four restaurant kitchens throughout the greater Houston area. They take a distinctly American approach to classic Italian cooking, stuffing mushrooms with crab and salami, tossing bow-tie pasta with grilled chicken and tomato-cream sauce, and topping penne with italian sausages and peppers. Though Brooklyn Phil's serves customizable pizzas, the chefs also whip up 16 of their own signature creations, such as the Bronx, spread with spinach, ricotta, and garlic, and the Matthew, arranged with a colorful, aromatic landscape of sausage, sweet peppers, and basil. When not piling the restaurant’s signature meatballs—steaming spheres of beef, spicy pork, chicken, or mashed vegetables—onto pasta, chefs stuff them into baguette sandwiches or use them to play delicious games of tennis.
The East Coast pizza purists at Paparazzi Pizzeria pop from-scratch dough topped with house-made sauce into stone deck ovens shipped straight from New York. In true Big Apple fashion, Paparazzi Pizzeria's signature pies stretch up to 18-inches across ($21.99)—the to-scale size of Barbie's pinkie were she to come to life. Try the Pappa's flavorful soiree—chicken, spinach, and roma tomatoes in garlic cloaks dancing on a golden-crust floor (10", $9.99; 18", $21.99), or construct an edible mosaic with custom pies (10", $7.99; 18", $13.99) piled with your choice of 20 toppings ($0.79–$1.99 each). Pasta dishes ($6.99–$8.99) and borough-bred strombolis ($9.99) stuffed with steak, sausage, and street smarts round out the menu.
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.
When in season, the chefs at Justin's Seafood receive fresh crawfish every morning, and they immediately start boiling them up in an array of Cajun spices. Once flavored, the grilled or fried morsels are tossed into everything from fresh salads to po' boys to seafood pizzas. These dishes are great while catching a game at the restaurant's 25-foot bar, but the chefs understand that some customers want to have a proper crawfish boil in their own homes. So, during crawfish season, they also sell and deliver live and pre-boiled crawfish, cleaned and ready for home cooks to add their own spices and written proof they've been to Louisiana.
When the slow-roasted prime rib is cooked to tender perfection, a chef comes over, carves into it with a knife, and sends freshly loaded plates out into the dining room. That’s the way things have worked at Peppers Restaurant since it opened in 1995. The establishment's homemade take on hearty eats is evident in not only the hand-carved prime rib, but also the house-concocted sauces and seasonings, such as the chicken florentine’s white-wine-mushroom cream and the blackened redfish’s Cajun spices. The steakhouse revolves around USDA Choice cut steaks and deep-fried seafood, although the menu also features a worldly mix of pastas, enchiladas, burgers, and salads harvested from the rainforest.
Like a practiced yogi, Cullen's combines yin and yang in equal portions, with two separate menus, featuring the main dining room's elegant feasts and the casual grille's culinary char stripes. Both menus incorporate fresh seafood and locally grown produce.