Pizziola’s Cafe’ in Humble
Houston’s “First Family of Italian Cuisine” Opens a Restaurant in Humble
Maybe fifteen years ago, Sally and I lived WAY out in Memorial and our local neighborhood Italian restaurant was Frank Triola’s Azzarelli’s on Eldridge. It later moved to Memorial near Gessner and our relationship faded away a little.
Last week, I was out in northeast Houston (on 1960 near 59 North) and spotted a new restaurant. It was so new that it had a banner over the front door with the name Pizziola’s Cafe’. A new restaurant is fresh meat to me and I stopped in for lunch. As soon as I entered the front door, there stood Frank Triola. I felt comfortable and knew that the new restaurant was probably going to please me. Frank Triola, after all, is part of the blood line that he is quick to point out was Houston’s first Italian restaurant that opened in 1945. I asked Frank what the culinary focus of the restaurant was to be and was told “Great pizza, great Lasagna and Marinara from old family recipes that have matured in my restaurant family for 67 years!” However, I found that the menu was also full of items (chicken, mussels, scallops, shrimp, etc.) in rich creamy cheese sauces and diverse white sauces. Frank Triola is a master saucier.
After a greeting and re-introduction, I settled into a place by the window and ordered far too much food for one person.
I started with an appetizer of Fried Ravioli Marinara. The house-made ravioli was filled with creamy ricotta, then deep-fried crisp and tossed in Marinara. This is a dish that, in my opinion, should be eaten immediately while the hot creamy ricotta is soft and the breading is crispy. I did and it was a great starter.
Next, I plowed through a Pizza Triola. This was reassuring to me that Frank’s repertoire is deep and this white pizza showed that the red checkered table cloths at lunch and Frank Sinatra classic music (reminded me of Mulberry Street in Little Italy, NYC) should not lead customers to believe that this place is just full of Meat Balls, Ravioli, Pasta and Pizzas. The Pizza Triola is crafted from garlic, extra virgin olive oil, prosciutto, ricotta and mozzarella. It was really nice.
By the way, Triola pointed out that in the evening, the restaurant changes from the red and white checkered tablecloths and goes romantic with coordinated table cloths, napkins and candles.
Next, as I watched a petite Italian-American woman scarf down a Meatball Sub that was far bigger than her head, I chose the Chicken Zukero, with a grilled chicken breast topped with artichoke hearts and mushrooms in a caper lemon sauce. If there weren’t so many other items on the menu that I would like to try, this would be my order on my next visit.
Sally asked me to bring home some lunch for her, so I ordered Lasagna al Forno to go. After tasting the lasagna, I allowed them to place it carefully in a doggie bag (to preserve the presentation). It was the lasagna that we used to get at Azzarelli’s, and one of the reasons we frequented that restaurant.
Impressive to me was the traditional classic Lasagna presented on a bed of marinara… not drowned in the sauce.
An Italian-style Cheese Cake was suggested for dessert and that ricotta and cream cheese pie was my very pleasant accompaniment to my after-dinner coffee.
The menu also sports eight 12” pizzas that range from artisan to classic; 12 pasta items with sauces that range from Alfredo, to Marinara, to Pesto, to Marsala wine, and much more. You probably ought to give Pizziola’s a try.