Buon appitito

Talented and familiar chef takes over cozy Rice Village Italian restaurant

Talented and familiar chef takes over Rice Village Italian restaurant

Sandro Scarafile Roma
Sandro Scarafile will helm Roma. Photo courtesy of Roma

A new face is in the kitchen at Roma, the cozy Italian Rice Village spot located in a charming cottage at the corner of University Boulevard and Morningside Drive.

And that new face is a familiar one. 

Sandro Scarafile helmed the restaurant in its incarnation as Sud Italia, Roma's predecessor. He's spent the last year running a food truck, and is happy to be back in the kitchen.

“I’m not going to be changing the core dishes of Roma’s menu,” he said in an email announcing his comeback. “I want to keep our regular customers happy.”

He will, however, put his much-loved orecchiette con cime di rape back on the menu. The “little ear” pasta with broccoli raab is a dish inspired by his early childhood in Italy's Puglia and his parents’ cooking.

Born in Puglia, Scarafile lived with his family in Italy and Germany before they finally settled in Nice, France where he grew up. By 15, he'd made a career in cooking, and would go on to be a professional chef in countries around the world, picking up seven languages along with global cuisine influences.

His specialty remains Italian.

Diners should look for Pugliese and seafood dishes, along with a focus on seasonal ingredients. They should also expect Scarafile to spend more time tableside, whether filleting a branzino or plating a risotto.

He and his wife Niki recently returned from a months-long visit to Italy and France, and Scarafile says he's happy about being back in the Bayou City.

“I’m so excited to be back in Houston, a city that I love,” he said. “And I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen after so many months away.”