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Critic-Loved Restaurant Closing

Major shakeup: New critic-loved restaurant is closing and a controversial chef's taking over the prime space

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Osteria Mazzantini with John Sheely standing in front of mural
John Sheely tells CultureMap that Osteria Mazzantini will serve its last meal Saturday night. Photo by Paula Murphy
Bruce Molzan Corner Table chef with squash blossoms June 2014
On Monday, Bruce Molzan will launch a new concept called Ruggles Kitchen in the space. Corner Table/Facebook
Osteria Mazzantini with John Sheely standing in front of mural
Bruce Molzan Corner Table chef with squash blossoms June 2014

High-profile new restaurant Osteria Mazzantini is set to close after its dinner service Saturday night, CultureMap has learned. A new concept, tentatively called Ruggles Kitchen, will open in the prime Post Oak space in a week or so after some minor renovations.

Just last week, CultureMap detailed Osteria's struggles and chef/owner John Sheely opened up about rumors of his critic-beloved restaurant's impending demise. The rumors quickly came true.

"We had a good run, but the Ruggles people made me an offer I couldn't refuse," Sheely now tells CultureMap.

"We thank Houston for all the support. And all the critics for their support."

Osteria was selected by both CultureMap and Texas Monthly as one of 2013's best new restaurants.

 Sheely said he'll spend the next month assisting with the transition before returning to Mockingbird Bistro.  

Osteria Mazzantini's current staff will have the chance to stay with the new concept. "If (Ruggles) keep them, they'll have a fantastic staff," Sheely says. Less certain is the future of executive chef Paul Lewis and sous chef Matthew Lovelace. Sheely calls Lewis a "fantastic chef, fantastic gentlemen and a good friend" and adds that both Lewis and Lovelace "taught me a lot of things."

While Sheely politely declined to offer many details about Ruggles Kitchen, he did reveal that the restaurant is a partnership between former Ruggles Grill/Corner Table chef Bruce Molzan and the group of people who own Ruggles Green, which is surprising because Molzan and those partners once sued each other

CultureMap has attempted to reach Ruggles Green partner Federico Marques to learn more details but has yet to receive a reply. 

Sheely said he'll spend the next month assisting with the transition before returning to Mockingbird Bistro.

In the meantime, those looking for one last taste of sweetbread and kale ravioli or a glass of wine from former sommelier Samantha Porter's celebrated list should head to Mazzantini as soon as possible. By Saturday night, they'll be gone.

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