mamma mia

Guy Fieri-favorite Houston chef opens fine new Italian restaurant in River Oaks

Guy Fieri-favorite chef opens new Italian restaurant in River Oaks

Roberto Crescini Fresco Café Italiano Guy Fieri Diners Drives In Dives
Davanti chef Roberto Crescini with Guy Fieri. Courtesy of Food Network

Two veterans of the Houston food scene have teamed up to open a new Italian restaurant that will be opening for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Chef Roberto Crescini and Francisco “Paco” Calza will open Davanti Ristorante Italiano on July 6.

Located near Central Market at 2900 Weslayan St., Davanti will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a menu built around Crescini's freshly made pastas that diners can combine with different sauces and proteins. Other menu items will include pizzas and Italian desserts like tiramisu. Italian wines and craft beers from both Europe and America will anchor the beverage program.

“We will work to have a warm, courteous, and efficient service,” Calza said in a statement. “While at the same time offer the best beer and wine pairings for Roberto’s cuisine”

The closure earlier this year of Fresco Café Italiano, chef Crescini's former restaurant, provided the opportunity for the two men to work together. In a release, the duo explain that they share a passion for high quality European ingredients. Calza, who will remain in his role at BCN while contributing to Davanti, adds that chef Crescini makes the best pasta he's ever eaten. 

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

Calza has a similarly sparkling resume. After working as the general manager of Cafe Annie for many years, he joined chef Luis Roger to open Spanish fine dining restaurant BCN in 2014. As BCN's general manager, he played a key role in helping BCN establish its reputation as one of Houston's best restaurants with top flight service that matched the quality of its food.