Looks like the saga of Galleria-area Italian restaurant Osteria Mazzantini has drawn to a conclusion. The restaurant announced on its website today that it has closed.
Mockingbird Bistro chef/owner John Sheely opened Mazzantini in August 2013 to get fanfare and critical praise, including a spot on Texas Monthly's list of the state's best new restaurants and a three-star review from Chronicle critic Alison Cook. Despite that, it never lured the crowds necessary to support its high dollar rent.
Mazzantini's shuttering brings to an end a drama that had captivated Houston's restaurant community last summer.
Sheely tells the Chronicle that, despite his best efforts, Mazzaninti wasn't meant to be. "We put a lot of time and effort into the project. We touched a lot of lives with our food and service. I feel very proud of what we accomplished here. But we fell short. It just didn’t work out.”
The chef will focus on his other restaurant, the venerable Mockingbird Bistro.
Mazzantini's shuttering brings to an end a drama that had captivated Houston's restaurant community last summer. Beginning in June, rumors swirled that Mazzantini was going to close, which Sheely denied. Then he announced that he had struck a deal to close the restaurant and sell the location to Ruggles Green, but had to remain open when the deal fell through. During the turmoil, most of the restaurant's most important staff members, including executive chef Paul Lewis, sous chef Matthew Lovelace and bartender Kimberly Paul, left for other jobs. The affair led to Mazzantini landing on the list of CultureMap's biggest restaurant scandals of 2014.
No one who knows what will replace Mazzantini is talking to the media (yet). With rent rumored to be in the range of $30,000 per month, it'll take an ambitious concept to make the space viable. Still, expect someone to jump on it quickly. The success of Hugo Ortega's Caracol in the adjacent space suggests that diners will patronize the right concept at that location.