West U's new pizzeria
A new neighborhood restaurant devoted to pizza and pasta has debuted in West U. Chef Nicolas Nikic has opened Magdalena’s Trattoria & Pizzeria in the former Pei Wei space at 5110 Buffalo Speedway.
Nikic brings considerable experience to his new establishment. For 17 years, he served as general manager and sommelier of legendary Italian fine dining restaurant Da Marco. He’s blended lessons from those positions with recipes from his mother, the restaurant’s namesake, to bring Magdalena’s to life.
“It has always been my goal throughout my career to open my own restaurant,” Nikic said in response to CultureMap’s request for comment about his decision to leave Da Marco. “I am thrilled to finally have the opportunity to share my family's authentic Italian recipes with the city of Houston, a community I hold close to my heart."
Developed by Nikic and executive chef Luis Silva (Vic & Anthony’s, La Griglia), Magdalena’s menu consists of familiar Italian fare. Diners will find starters such as Caesar salad, fried artichokes, and burrata with cauliflower and cherry tomatoes. The six pastas include tagliatelle with shellfish, spaghetti carbonara, and sweet corn ravioli with lobster. Four entrees — branzino, osso bucco, quail, and duck — may be paired with five vegetable sides.
True to its name, pizzas are at the heart of Magdalena’s offerings. Hand-tossed and baked in a wood-burning oven, the Neapolitan-style pies include margherita, a cheese-less pie with marinara sauce and garlic, and sausage with rapini. Other pizzas are also available, including pies topped preserved Sicilian tuna, clams with garlic, or a vegetarian-friendly pizza topped with taleggio, pears, arugula, and truffle oil.
Magdalena’s debuts at a time when the West U. area has welcomed a number of new restaurants. Over the past couple of years, the adjacent Plaza in the Park shopping center has added Tastemaker Awards winner Craft Pita, Tex-Mex staple Los Tios, all-day cafe Adair Kitchen, and, most recently, local ice cream favorite Milk & Sugar. Maximo Canteen, a new restaurant from the owner of Local Foods and the team behind shuttered Mexican restaurant El Topo, is expected to open in the coming weeks.
“We couldn't think of a better area to open a neighborhood restaurant,” Nikic said. “West U. is a community made up of so many different families in a central location. We are the perfect restaurant for any occasion, from a date night to celebrating your kids birthday, and everything in between."