A Journey to Italy from Houston: Pastore Italian Kitchen
Under the creative guidance of Executive Chef Jeff Potts and Underbelly Hospitality’s culinary director Scott Muns, Pastore paints a vibrant picture of coastal Italy. As Nina Quincy, Underbelly Hospitality’s Director of Operations, puts it, the restaurant aims to present an “incredible coastal Italian dining experience.” They’ve taken a different road from their other ventures, infusing more unique elements in both the design and the menu, something we are eagerly waiting to explore.
No stone has been left unturned in curating a menu that is a vivid tapestry of Italian coastal cuisine. Seafood lovers, brace yourselves for a symphony of oceanic flavors – a rotating seafood tower, delectable mussels scapece, scallop crudo, and oysters dressed with prosecco granita – all promising to grace the menu. Complementing the seafood will be a generous serving of freshly baked focaccia, born from general manager Peter Pearce’s seasoned five-year-old sourdough starter. Fried anchovies, sage, and roasted calamari stuffed with farro verde, sitting atop a piquillo pepper sauce, are just a few of the other delicacies that wait in the wings.
The chefs have also kneaded magic into handmade pastas, with mouthwatering options like kale cavatelli, squid ink linguine, chicken sausage ravioli, and swordfish amatriciana. The menu also offers a nod to health-conscious diners with gluten-free options. The dishes don’t stop at the ocean or pasta bowls, though. Larger meals featuring branzino puttanesca and porchetta with gigante bean ragout are sure to satisfy the hungriest of customers. And if you have a sweet tooth, Pastore has you covered with apple fritters, olive oil cake, and a unique celery root panna cotta with glazed figs and limoncello sabayon.
But the Pastore experience isn’t limited to the tantalizing menu. It’s about creating a soothing, immersive environment that serves as an ode to the Italian gardens that inspired its design. Designed by Houston-based architecture and interior design firm Montgomery Roth, Pastore unfolds a world of serenity and tranquility within its 2,611-square-foot main dining room.
The interior, a symphony of soft green, blue, and gray hues, complements the antique brass lighting, infusing a touch of contemporary elegance. Sunlight filters through a series of 12-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, casting a calming glow throughout the restaurant. Delicate porcelain tiles and floral carpeting, combined with artfully arranged seating, provide comfort while promoting privacy. The exposed white ceilings and a statement mural featuring lush flowers add an alluring touch to the ambiance.
Pastore’s commitment to Italian craftsmanship doesn’t end with the architecture. The restaurant boasts an extensive wine collection, rooted in lesser-known Italian varietals, producers, and regions. To add to this, a tantalizing cocktail program, headed by award-winning mixologist Sarah Troxell, promises light and bright drinks like a frozen limoncello.
Pastore Italian Kitchen will be open Monday to Thursday from 5-10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 5-11 pm and Sunday from 5-9 pm, offering dinner service
Interiors images courtesy of Alex Montoya and food courtesy of Duc Hoang.