Shame on you, Houston! After a wonderful lunch at Pesca, I wondered why I had been able to get a table for lunch on a Friday.
Just three months ago, Alberto Alfonzo opened Pesca World Seafood Restaurant, a new concept in the West Gray near Shepherd location that used to house Tinto’s. It was a Friday at noon and I dropped in for lunch, expecting a wait. I was seated on the pleasant patio and Alfonzo joined me for a few minutes. I asked him to describe the concept. “Growing up, my family traveled to the coastal cities around the Gulf of Mexico… from Texas to Florida, and throughout the Caribbean,” stated Alfonzo. “I love to eat and cook great seafood and created my menu for Pesca based on the dishes I fell in love with, like my Isla Mujeres Flounder, which I discovered on a trip to the Mexican Caribbean with my wife when we visited Isla Mujeres.
“To me, ‘tapas’ is not a single dish, but a way of eating.”
I asked him why his menu referred to “Tapas” rather than appetizers. “To me, ‘tapas’ is not a single dish, but a way of eating,” added Alfonzo. “Order three or eight different dishes, and create the meal of your dreams, to share or not. I grew up eating with a very large family. When you had something that was wonderful, you shared with your sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. Sharing was our way of celebrating.”
Cuban Shrimp Scampi
I started with a Cuban Shrimp Scampi. It was a great way to start and it set the tone for the lunch. The combination of the savory shrimp with the sweet plantains topped with agria sour cream and wasabi micro greens was an unexpected contrast in texture and flavors.
Portuguese Seafood Stew
Next, at the suggestion of the server, I ordered a Portuguese Seafood Stew. This savory seafood soup was piled high with Clams, Squid, Shrimp, Fish, a Sofrito base and Chorizo immediately reminded me of a filling, rich bowl of San Francisco’s famous Cioppino without the crab. It was truly delicious.
Pretzel Crab Cakes
The menu offered something that I had to try, back on the Tapas section… Pretzel Crab Cakes. I certainly never heard of that combination before. Alfonzo is definitely creative. I worried that the VERY light dusting of crushed pretzels might overpower the almost-binder-free jumbo lump crabmeat in the cake… but that wasn’t the case. I loved it… and the fact that it was plated amidst a mild mustard cream and a rich roasted red pepper coulis was impressive in flavor as well as presentation.
Fish and Chips
Next, “Fish and Chips“. I put quotes around it, as it definitly is not the typical British Fish and Chips dish that we have all had. The Cod is battered in a coating that is more like a tempura batter than the crisp ones you may be used to. I thought that this preparation took the focus off of the crust and allowed the flavor of the Cod to shine through. It was served with crispy fries and a really tangy red cocktail sauce and a house-made tartar sauce.
I can’t tell you what the real name of the (server suggested) Cheese Cake, but I CAN tell you that I would order it again (and again). This dessert was a combination of the flavors and textures of both Flan and Cheesecake. Another flavor and textural surprise. I can tell you that if you order it wanting either a cheesecake experience OR a flan experience, you will be happy.
Pesca World Seafood Restaurant
2015 West Gray St. Ste. J.
Houston, Texas 77019
Phone 713-522-1330 : Fax: 713-522-1348