NOTnot everyone had the good fortune to grow up with their great-grandmother during those formative years of her youth. But chef Chris Cosentino did, and the impact his Italian nonna Rosalie would have on her life and career is evident in the intimate restaurant he named for her at the C. Baldwin Hotel in the city center. from Houston. The swanky hotel (formerly Doubletree) opened in late 2019 with a popping party that left people chatting for weeks about the stylish Curio brand remodel and its newly installed restaurant, dubbed Rosalie Italian Soul. Still, the fanfare quickly stopped a few months later when the COVID pandemic hit the ground running.
But Rosalie Italian Soul has reopened for lunch and dinner service – and the touch of Cosentino is still evident.
The first-generation Italian-American whose immigrant family settled in Rhode Island, like so many who came to the United States in search of a better life, left the Italian ingredients behind. authentic from their home country and made do with all the vaguely similar foods they could find on the ground. Rosalie Soul Italian is a tribute to the matriarch of the Rosalie Cosentino family, and the nourishment of the youth of her great-grandson.
This means that the red sauce circuit dishes, from eggplant parmesan and dumplings to manicotti, have proliferated in every American community in Little Italy, from coast to coast.
Cosentino rose to fame for his nose-to-tail cooking prowess as a celebrity chef and co-owner of the hotel restaurants in Portland (Hare) and Napa Valley (Acacia house). And he’s no stranger to these macho TV cooking contests, either. Cosentino even won The great master chefs Season four several years ago.
Attracted to Houston for this C Baldwin hotel opportunity, he turned to Philadelphia designers. RohÃ© Creative to reimagine Rosalie’s house as the backdrop to the dining room. The fun and kitschy space here is adorned with retro TV consoles, volumes of vintage Joy of Cooking cookbooks, fern and rose patterned curtains (Rosalie replicas), and houseplants galore. Philodendrons and English ivy.
River Oaks District
Take a seat in one of Hollywood’s elevated leather booths and let Cosentino and his talented new executive chef Jacob Coronado (formerly of Nobie’s) take you back to his childhood with modern Italian-American fare.
With Rosalie reopened for breakfast and having dinner service – as well as online order pickup – Cosentino’s Caesar salad starter ($ 13), which I tried on my first visit, is a carefully constructed pile of little lettuce leaves coated in that famous dressing as close to the original Cardini as you can imagine. Don’t miss the arancini app ($ 10) with a creamy pesto aioli for dipping, perfectly fried light orbs of plumped arborio rice that, when cut, ooze melted mozzarella. Or Great-Grandma’s Meatballs ($ 12), two tender meatballs covered in traditional tomato sauce.
The wine list is Italian-focused and divided by tier priced at $ 45, $ 60, $ 80, and $ 120 and under, with a wide range of wines by the glass available. The cocktail list is a twist on Italian classics of Hugo Spritz ($ 12), a sparkling prosecco cocktail with cucumber water and Saint-Germain or my favorite, Jessica Rabbit, a tequila Blanco base tinted with sour cherry molasses and ginger.
A centerpiece of the restaurant is the glass-enclosed pizza kitchen where a pizza chef shovels hand-stretched 16-inch rounds of pizza to order into his wide mouth topped with pepperoni ($ 18) and various meats and peppers ($ 21). The pasta is handmade daily and includes a riff on a classic rarely seen today: manicotti ($ 26) stuffed with local blue crab and handmade ravioli ($ 18) stuffed with fresh ricotta topped with butter. hazelnut and crispy sage leaves.
Upgrade to hearty dishes and feast on a bone-in sirloin steak ($ ââ95), caper and wild mushroom snapper with the arugula bite ($ 31) and chicken dressed in lemon juice and crushed olives ( $ 26). Desserts (all at $ 9) include creamy soft ice cream (I especially love the rich vanilla), not too sweet chocolate bundino (Italian’s decadent answer to chocolate pudding) topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
Drink a little glass after your meal? Ask Food and Beverage Manager David Tinsley to do a âstudyâ of Amaro liqueur for you, and he’ll send you a trio of after-dinner Italian digestives that he finds particularly interesting.
Rosalie Soul Italian, The C. Baldwin Hotel, 400 Dallas Street, 713.351.5790.