Hello, Goodbye: This Week’s Openings, Closures and Other Tasty Bits

The Annie duck leg confit (photo by Jenn Duncan)

HERE'S WHO'S POPPING in and what's going down this week in Houston's dynamic restaurant scene.


Peek the New Exec Chef, Menu Refresh at The Annie and Turner’s

Wood-grilled octopus at The Annie (photo by Jenn Duncan)

Berg Hospitality Group hired Brian Sutton as the executive chef of The Annie Café & Bar and Turner’s earlier this summer, and last week Sutton rolled out a refreshed menu for lunch and dinner. A native of Colchester, England, Sutton brings more than 26 years of experience in the hospitality industry to Berg, including several spent with famous chefs in hotel and restaurant kitchens around the world. His knowledge of operating culinary programs as an executive chef makes him an ideal successor to award-winning Robert Del Grande, who will now serve as Chef Emeritus. Chef Jose Valencia remains as the chef de cuisine.

New menu items include duck leg confit with fresh blackberries (Wednesday night special); grilled octopus; burrata; lobster salad; orecchiette; and crab cake Benedict for brunch.

“Although Brian has big shoes to fill as Robert Del Grande’s successor, I am confident that he is the perfect candidate based on his extensive culinary expertise and leadership skills, which I was able to witness firsthand when we worked together,” said owner Benjamin Berg in a statement.

This Month, Dine Out and Do Good

Roka Akor is an HRW participant.

Just a tasty reminder: Houston Restaurant Weeks (HRW), benefiting the Houston Food Bank, is on now! Running through Labor Day, the initiative boasts a record-breaking number of restaurants participating this year — 300 and counting! View all participating restaurants and their menus at www.houstonrestarauntweeks.com.

River Oaks Says ‘Benvenuto’ to New Italian Café

Roberto Crescini of Davanti with Guy Fieri

Chef Roberto Crescini and partner Francisco “Paco” Calza are the masterminds behind Davanti Ristorante, a counter-service café dishing Italian breakfast, lunch and dinner. The duo met a few years ago while Crescini was heading up the kitchen at Fresco Café Italiano. After multiple discussions of their shared love for high-quality European ingredients, the restaurant was brought to fruition.

Antipasti dishes include burrata cheese with Parma prosciutto and bruschetta; bresaola della valtellina con Parmigiano (cured beef imported from Italy with gorgonzola and ricotta cream); and grilled Mediterranean octopus with caponata sauce. Lasagna Bolognese, chicken Marengo, eggplant Parmigiana, tagliatelle with lamb sauce, and Romana-style pizzas headline the entrée menu. According to a news release, all pastas are made from scratch.

Crescini first made his mark locally as the opening chef for Bellaire favorite Enoteca Rossa. At Fresco Café Italiano, he earned devoted fans for his fresh pastas. The chef appeared alongside Food Network star Guy Fieri on a 2021 episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

It’s the End of an Era for Montrose Restaurant Royalty

After 45 years of service in the Montrose/River Oaks area, The Vincent Mandola Family Restaurants, Nino’s, Vincent’s, and Grappino di Nino, will close August 5 after dinner service. The 2.57 acre development that was owned by the restaurant family has been purchased by an affiliate of Oxberry Group and TKG Capital Partners. The co-developers plan to revitalize the buildings into a new dining destination dubbed the “Harlow District.” The land, which encompasses the entire block from West Dallas to West Clay, will also include the Printing Museum and The HAY Center building, known to some as the old American Legion building.

“We would like to thank our amazing family, friends, guests, and staff for the past 45 years. We are so proud of what we have accomplished over the years. We are excited to see the new venues created within the establishments that hold so many of our cherished memories,” said Mary Mandola, wife of the late Vincent Mandola, and their daughters Vinceanne Mandola and Dana Mandola Corbett in a statement.

Revival Market to Become Lagniappe Kitchen & Bar

Heights’ staple café and butcher shop Revival Market owned by Agricole Hospitality has closed, but the space will be revived under new ownership. Revival’s G.M. Layne Cruz will leave Agricole to open a new restaurant in the space. After some interior renovations, Cruz expects to debut Lagniappe Kitchen & Bar mid-August. Details on the cuisine and style of service have yet to be released.

Houston Rapper Bun B Wins Best Burger in the U.S.

Rapper Bun B with NFL star Tiki Barber (photo courtesy the Scurfield Group)

Good Morning America’s “United States of Burgers” contest was held in Times Square last Friday where Houston’s own Trill team, led by Bun B and famous for their Trill Burger smashburger pop-ups, faced off against burger joints in Atlanta, Miami and Philly. Trill’s OG Burger — 44 Farms beef, secret Trill sauce and pickles on a Martin’s potato roll — garnered the winning Golden Burger Trophy and a $10,000 check. Nice work!

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