Frankly, I never expected to find what I found when we entered this new restaurant in a strip center on the feeder of the Southwest Freeway! The first positive discovery was the Instito Gastronomico Caterina de Medeci-trained chef of 40 years, Chef Roberto Crescini! Also, I immediately stood in front of art depicting memories of Chef’s beautiful hometown of Brescia in northern Italy.
Chef Crescini’s concept is to provide fresh (get it? Fresco!) ingredients… bread, pasta, pizza, ravioli, meatballs, sauces, dressings and desserts ALL made in-house daily! The kitchen is “true scratch”. All grains and cheeses are imported from Italy. A pasta machine is parked outside of the kitchen in plain view for the customers to watch the magic of pasta-making. Remembering the menu, classic dishes may be ordered, as well as custom-made dishes crafted from your choices of fresh pasta, sauces and proteins.
We started off with Umbria Lentil Zuppa, a hearty a soup of lentils, chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic and house-cured guanciale (an Italian cured pork product). I’m a big fan of lentil soup, but this was much richer and tastier due to the depth of ingredients.
I’m a big fan of octopus and cook it frequently, so I’m always intrigued when I find it cooked differently. This one was very much to my liking! This Grilled Mediterranean Octopus demonstrates beautifully that radical strong spices, wine, etc. are not necessary. The octopus and the pasta demonstrate their delicate taste when prepared without artificial flavorings.
You can always follow me to clams on linguine. I had to order Linguine alla Vongole. Superb in every way. The clams were fresh and the linguine was just made. Simply flavored with a light liquid of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and garlic.
The Tagliatelle with Texas Raised Lamb Sauce was a must-order! The lamb, while semi-shredded, was very up-front and the dish truly centered around it. It was delicious!
They used the word “creamy” in the description of Ravioli Ricotta e Spinach on the menu. Never was the word more correct. The house-made ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach was exactly that… creamy. I can’t express how soothing and comforting the ravioli was.
Below is a video of their fresh pasta being made. I’ve seen it flattened through hand operated rollers many times… it was done very well. However, when it is appropriate, this powered pasta maker yields a much more uniform product.
I’m very happy to have stumbled into this little nook of genuine Italy… and that it is so affordable. We will definitely return soon!
Fresco! Café Italiano
3277 Southwest Freeway, Suite A
Houston, TX 77027