Restaurant Roundup: Bari Ristorante, Dante's River Oaks bring Italian to River Oaks District area

There are three new Italian restaurants opening soon near the River Oaks District in Houston.

Restaurant Roundup: Bari Ristorante, Dante's River Oaks bring Italian to River Oaks District area

Two new Italian concepts will be opening near or in the River Oaks District, according to this week's Restaurant Roundup. Another Italian restaurant, this time from Underbelly Hospitality, is also preparing to open in the next month. Recently, a Mediterranean restaurant opened near River Oaks Shopping Center.

Bari Ristorante opens in River Oaks District

Bari Ristorante will be opening on May 15, a new Italian Restaurant in the River Oaks District. The River Oaks District renovations announced last year included the opening of Bari Ristorante.

Renato de Pirro, the executive chef of Bari's restaurant, is a local restaurateur Thomas 'Tommy' Nally. Pirro is a chef with more than 30 years' experience in fine dining in Italy and in the U.S. Nally has owned, operated and developed restaurants, bars, and nightclubs throughout New York City, Las Vegas, the Caribbean and Houston.

Bari offers authentic antipasti and salads as well as seafood options, such a tower of mussels, clams and prawns. Maine lobsters, jumbo-lump crabmeat, and crudos are also available. The menu will include a variety of housemade pastas, hand-tossed pies, and entrees such as veal Milanese, baked sea bass or chianti-braised short rib. Bari also offers a wide range of Italian desserts and cocktails, as well as wines.

Bari opens daily at 11 am and closes at 1 am on Thursdays to Saturdays. It will be open until 11 pm Tuesdays through Wednesdays. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm.

Highland Village to get a new Italian restaurant near River Oaks District

Dante's River Oaks, owned by Brian Doke, will open on May 16th.

The new concept will replace another Italian restaurant called Concura at 4340 Westheimer Road #150. This is located just east of River Oaks District, and west of Park Place River Oaks, a mixed-use development, and Highland Village Shopping Center.

Dante's offers shareable starters such as charcuterie, cheese and octopus in Mediterranean style, along with salads that highlight different regions of Italy. It also has six variations of pastas, rotating catch of day and other main dishes. The restaurant will feature a "niche" selection of wines that reflect Doke's passion for collecting Italian wines. It will also offer aperitifs, signature cocktails, and a variety of pastas. Evin Haines is the beverage director.

Doke and Ilias Gugole have been working together on the menu since a few weeks now. The team has also been testing the menu at Doke’s patio bar Heights & Co. Gugole studied culinary arts in Verona (Italy), where he worked for Ristorante Caffe Vittorio Emanuele. He worked in his native Italy for a decade before moving to Houston last year.

Dante's offers a rotating board-and bottle special every month from 3 to 5 p.m. The four-seat Chef's Table will feature a pre-fixe monthly menu. The restaurant has 30 seats on the inside, 30 more outside and 20 more in a lounge area. The restaurant will have a private dining area for groups between 20-25.

Doke: 'My hospitality profession began in River Oaks many years ago, at Tiny Boxwoods.'

"I am delighted to be returning to this area to showcase the aspects of Italy which attract every visitor: true hospitality, delicious cuisine and delicious wines."

Dante's is open from Tuesday to Saturday. They serve lunch from 11 am to 3 pm, happy hour between 3-5 pm, and dinner from 5-10pm. On Fridays and weekends, they extend the service until 10:30pm.

The space formerly occupied by Seasons 52 between River Oaks District & Park Place River Oaks.

Underbelly Hospitality announces new chef for its upcoming restaurant

Underbelly Hopsitality named Jeff Potts executive chef for the company's new restaurant, Pastore.

The restaurant will open in June 2012 at 1203 Dunlavy St., the second phase of Regent Square. Regent Square is a mixed-use project south of Allen Parkway east of Shepherd Drive.

Potts has worked at several restaurants owned by the company, including Underbelly and One Fifth. He also worked for UB Preserv, Georgia James (also located in Regent Square), as well as Georgia James. Potts, a Houston native, was raised in South Florida where he developed a passion for Caribbean, Latin American and seafood cuisines. He worked at Helen Greek Food & Wine and Shun Japanese Kitchen after returning to Houston for the University of Houston. Most recently, he served as the sous chef at Georgia James.

Potts stated that 'Seafood is a theme I have been working on throughout my career and life. I am thrilled to be able to combine my love of seasonal cooking with my passion for seafood at Pastore. We're still working out the menu but expect to see crudos and whole roasted fish, as well as flatbreads that pay homage the hearth of the kitchen. One of the highlights of working at different Underbelly Restaurants was the opportunity to work across multiple restaurants. I am honored and excited about the opportunity to open Pastore.

The Houston Business Journal reached out to get more information.

Underbelly Hospitality stated that the design of Pastore by Houston-based interior and architecture firm Montgomery Roth was inspired by Italian Gardens. "The design emphasizes serenity and relaxation throughout," they said. Pastore embraces femininity, with its lighter colors, florals, and brass accents.

CultureMap has reported that Albi is an upscale Mediterranean dining experience offering "vibes" and a "vibe-dining" style.

Albi, as previously reported by the Houston Business Journal, is located above Men's Wearhouse at 1947 W. Gray St. next to River Oaks Shopping Center.

The new restaurant was opened by brothers Nano and Jimy Fakhoury who operate two Mary'z Mediterranean Restaurants near the Galleria.

Nano Fakhoury told the HBJ previously that Albi’s menu would be a fusion between Lebanese cuisine, Greek cuisine, and Turkish cuisine. He said that the seafood-heavy meal will include kebabs and traditional recipes, as well as modernized versions of classic flavors.