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Truffle time! Houston's top restaurants embrace the pricey delicacy — your best options

Truffle time! Houston's top restaurants embrace the pricey delicacy

white truffle souffle at Tony's November 2013
Tony Vallone is particularly proud of this year's white truffle souffle. Photo courtesy of Tony's
Arcodoro white truffle dish chef shaving November 2013
No truffle oil in this round-up. Just freshly shaved whole truffles.  Photo by Annie Amante
Arcodoro white truffle dish with veal November 2013
Feeling spendy? Head to Arcodoro for this veal dish with white truffle. Photo by Annie Amante
Osteria Mazzantini Vellutata di Cavolofiore
Osteria Mazzantini shaves 5g of truffle over the Vellutata di Cavolofiore: Cauliflower veloute, smoked sea salt, caviar and white truffles. Photo by Paula Murphy
Ristorante Cavour white truffles November 2013 Hotel Granduca
Ristorante Cavour sent us this picture of white truffles. Photo by © Jeff Myers
Arcodoro Houston chef Giancarlo Ferrara $2,000 worth of white truffles November 2013
This handful is worth $2,000, give or take. Photo by Annie Amante
white truffle souffle at Tony's November 2013
Arcodoro white truffle dish chef shaving November 2013
Arcodoro white truffle dish with veal November 2013
Osteria Mazzantini Vellutata di Cavolofiore
Ristorante Cavour white truffles November 2013 Hotel Granduca
Arcodoro Houston chef Giancarlo Ferrara $2,000 worth of white truffles November 2013

Nothing compares to the deeply earthy, pungent scent and flavor of fresh, white truffles. Restaurant owners can pay up to $2,000 per pound for the seasonal treat, which is typically over by New Year's. Diners who are familiar with the earthy aroma and rich flavor scour the city to get their fix.

Black truffles, while expensive, are more commonly available during the year, but white truffle season is a fleeting thing. The time to act is now.   

Over the past couple weeks, dishes featuring white truffles have started to make their way onto menus across Houston. Prices seem to be a little lower this year, with most of the dishes below running between $50 and $75. That doesn't make them a bargain by any means, but maybe this year is the time to splurge a little and find out what all the hype's about.

 Maybe this year is the time to splurge a little and find out what all the hype's about. 

Where to go to savor this luxurious ingredient? Not as truffle oil, mind you, but in dishes that use shavings from whole truffles performed tableside. Here's a look at restaurants currently serving the delicacy. 

Tony's

A restaurant representative tells us that Tony Vallone is particularly proud of this year's truffle dish, a souffle inspired by the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Check out the picture above or watch this ridiculous vine shot by local food writer Mai Pham.

They're absolutely mouth-watering. Get it or classic truffle risotto for $59.  

La Balance Cuisine

At this French newcomer out in Katy, chef Jose Hernandez offers both black and white truffles. Add them to any dish for $4 or $12 per gram, respectively. In terms of composed dishes, La Balance serves mushroom pasta or risotto with white truffle for $60. 

Da Marco

The crown jewel in chef/owner Marco Wiles mini-empire of Italian restaurant keeps it classic. For $75, get truffles shaved over house-made tagliarini or risotto.   

Arcodoro

Houston's only Sardinian restaurant just received its latest batch of truffles this week. Get you fill on a four-cheese pizza ($60), shaved over risotto ($95), alongside veal medallions topped prosciutto di parma ham and fontina cheese ($110) or atop caramelized scallops with soft polenta and white truffle sauce ($60).

Osteria Mazzantini

Executive chef Paul Lewis writes that his "humble dishes" highlight the natural flavor of truffles. They are parmesan risotto with shaved white truffles, featuring lots of butter and cheese, and fettuccine pasta with celeriac crema.

Both dishes are $65 and include five grams of white truffle, which is about 10 slices. 

Philippe

The menu at this Galleria-area restaurant may be more American since founding chef Philippe Schmit's departure, but truffles are still on the menu. Beginning in December, chef Manuel Pucha will features truffles over risotto with peas and butternut squash or prosciutto pizza with mozzarella and arugula for $45 each.

Check back on Facebook for the exact start date.

Ristorante Cavour

This Northern Italian restaurant in the ultra-posh Hotel Granduca shaves white truffles over appetizers, pastas and main courses. Start with Carpaccio al Porcini featuring porcini mushroom-spiced beef carpaccio with fresh parmesan, fried capers and micro arugula ($50).

Pasta options include classic tagliatelle ($55) and risotto ($60). Or go all out with veal tenderloin over Jerusalem artichoke puree and white truffles ($85).