Local Houston Magazine: Housemade pastas, vibrant flavors, remarkable ingredients, and all the fresh fruits and vegetables from their garden is what makes Coltivare stand out! This restaurant is definitely a must try! Read more.
Positioning itself as a sexier upscale-casual Italian restaurant, this chain (formerly of Arizona's Fox Restaurant Concepts) offers shareable plates like prosciutto bruschetta and black Mediterranean mussels, plus pizzas (we recommend the Pig, with spicy pepperoni, soppressata, and sausage) and homemade pasta dishes. Try to snag a seat facing the glass-walled kitchen, where cooks scurry about making delicate pastas like tortelloni and radiatori, that half-spiral that sops up Parmesan cream sauce in a mouthwatering dish with short rib.
At mona, the five-step counter ordering system is similar to that at a Subway, Chipotle, Salata or one of the many quick-serve pizza chains. First, guests choose a base of plain pasta, gluten-free pasta, a sandwich or chopped salad. Next, up to five toppings are selected from a list of 18 options, including roasted bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, caramelized onions and blue cheese. Pick a sauce (chicken broth, vegan pomodoro, Alfredo or pesto) or dressing (housemade balsamic, Caesar, ranch or lemon). For basic orders that stop here, the cost is $8.50. However, diners can keep going and add three more toppings for $2 or six for $4. There are also a variety of proteins that can be added for a heartier meal, including a soft-boiled egg for $2, chicken breast for $2.95, a giant meatball made from certified Angus for $3.90 and burrata for $3.95. There are finishing touches free-of-charge, too, including crushed red pepper, fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, cracked black pepper and housemade herb-infused oil. White truffle oil is available for $1 more. At the end of the line, guests can even trim their own micro-basil garnish.
The pasta production, however, is already in full swing. In the preparation area, we saw rounds of fresh pasta being filled with a lobster mixture and turned into ravioli. A big bowl of immaculate semolina flour stood at the ready.
Of the fresh pasta offerings, what intrigued me most were the full-sized lasagna sheets. Instead of buying noodles from the grocery store and dealing with gaps or overlaps, I could have restaurant-style sheets for proper coverage of my filling.
Other items available during our visit were fresh taglierini and linguine. Mezzaluna and ravioli could be had with a variety of fillings, including eggplant and spinach with cheese. Pricing for all of the fresh pastas is by-the-pound and is quite reasonable. According to the price list on the website (which Milano says is still correct), regular pasta is $3.75 per pound, flavored is $3.85 per pound, and frozen items (such as ravioli and tortellini) are $8.50 per pound.
During the Summer, we will be featuring some seasonal favorites and sharing their stories. This month's pick is Di Stefano Burrata. Burrata earned its name from the Italian word for butter... understandably so. It's often described as a delicate version of mozzarella filled with rich, buttery cream. Rich as it may be, it's light enough for a summer dish or can stand alone for a simple cheese course. Mimmo Bruno and his son, Stefano are the heart and soul behind Di Stefano Cheese, a boutique dairy company in Southern California. Mimmo was raised in Italy and discovered his passion at the young age of 11, scrubbing the cheese vat in a factory. He happily shadowed the cheese makers to watch and learn, earning a mere $1 per week. At the time, most chefs refused to put burrata on their menus. Mimmo acted as an advocate for this delectable cheese and was one of the first cheesemakers to bring burrata to the states. The popularity of this traditional Italian cheese has grown tremendously. If you find yourself on a Houston scavenger hunt for burrata try the Foccacia with Burrata at Coltivare or the Green Garlic Brioche with Burrata at Pass & Provisions - incredible! Like most fresh cheese, it's incredibly versatile. Try it over fresh pasta with olive oil and lemon zest or in a citrus salad. Di Stefano Burrata is wonderful paired with grilled fruit and a drizzle of local honey. You can even use it to make a slightly savory, but sweet ice cream. Enjoy with a bright beverage, I love burrata with Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier. 59ce067264