“With Meat this Good, the only Seasoning Needed is Salt and Pepper and a Great Chimichurri” – Chef Gianfranco Percovich
Sal y Pimienta Parilla
Chef Gianfranco Percovich, a native of Uruguay, grew up in his family’s restaurant there. After moving to Houston to follow his dream, he joined the Cordua Restaurant Group. He was part of the team that opened Americas in The Woodlands and designed the wine list. With more than ten years of experience under his belt in Houston, he created a concept of his own, and opened the highly acclaimed Tango & Malbec South American Cuisine in the Galleria area in December of 2010. After over five years of great success with Tango & Malbec he sold his interest to open his new concept, much more casual, and recently unveiled Sal y Pimienta South American Kitchen.
Open Kitchen with Wood-burning Grills
On our visit, young Japanese customers at the bar were taking selfies; there were couples; a long table of friends and dates; young families were all seen enjoying their evenings and the orgy of wood-grilled meats that were constantly drifting among the tables. Surprisingly, in spite of the open concept dining room being packed, the noise level wasn’t deafening.
Sal y Pimienta’s Bar Draws Interest From the Street Via Full
Wall Floor-to-Ceiling Windows
Percovich came by to introduce himself and to apologize for the temperature in the dining room (two of the four A/C units were on the fritz that night).
Empanadas al Horno
Trying to stick with traditional South American specialties not widely served in Houston restaurants, we started with Empanadas al Horno (Uruguayan/Argentinean pastry stuffed with chicken, cream of corn, grass-feed ground beef, aji rojo and spinach), which were flaky and aromatic. The Matambre Arrollato (veal flank steak cooked for three hours, thinly cut and stuffed with spinach, carrots, hard boiled eggs and spices) was a delicious complex layered terrine with egg yolk “eyes” in the middle staring up at its admirers.
Ceviche is a common dish in Houston and served in almost every Mexican and South American restaurant here, but Percovich’s fresh, cool Flounder and Shrimp Ceviche(delightfully) was not drowned in lime that made us pucker, but had such a light citrus touch that we could almost imagine the fish’s heartbeat. We certainly appreciated the tingle of the mild flavor of jalapeño against the shrimp and flounder. Sal y Pimienta Parilla, a mixed grill of beautiful grass-fed beef (aged 40 days), sweetbreads, kidneys, grilled chicken breasts, inside skirt steaks, lamb chops, steaks as thick as pot roast and so much smoky tender MEAT made my meathead spin. Two types of Argentinian sausage, including Blood Sausage, were excellent. Blood (black) sausage suitable for my taste isn’t easy to find… and it seems to be all about the texture. This one had a slightly coarse “mouth feel” that was pleasant and satisfying.
Niman Ranch Tomahawk Steak.
One unique cut – which my wife suggested looked like a brontosaurus leg – was the Niman Ranch Tomahawk Steak. It was presented in its entirety, then carved skillfully at the table… although the menu claims it serves one, there was easily enough for two in the prime bone-in steak.
Carving the Niman Ranch Tomahawk Steak for Two Tableside
The beef (and food in general) at Sal y Pimienta is of such quality that the only seasonings applied to all meats there are salt and pepper – hence the restaurant’s name and Percovich’s statement that, “With meat this good, the only seasoning needed is salt and pepper and, of course, a great chimichurri”
Percovich said that he is proud of his selection of wines from small wineries and of his team’s ability to craft distinctly unique pairings.
Butterscotch Crème Brulee
Dinner concluded with a very moist Quattro Leches and a Butterscotch Crème Brulee and a rich perfectly brewed espresso. Service was attentive, water glasses were continuously refilled; every need was attended.
Butterscotch Crème Brulee
An outdoor dining area will be open soon and those who stroll the Centre will be attracted to the friendly, popular end of the walkway location. Parking is relatively easily managed from an $8 valet stand nearby. The valet parking is neither managed, nor owned by Sal y Pimienta and serves more than one restaurant. Customers line up like hungry sharks to get their cars, but it still took only around 5 minutes to get our car back.
We were impressed.
818 Town & Country Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77024