11 things to know

11 things to know in Houston food right now: Openings, closings, and people on the move

11 things to know in food right now: Openings, closings, and more

Pizza Zquare Rosa Grande pepperoni Finn Hall
Roman-style square pizza is coming to Finn Hall. Courtesy of Finn Hall
Jean-Phillipe Gaston
Jean-Philippe Gaston is heading to Europe. Photo by Carla Gomez
Vinny's pizza exterior
Vinny's now serves NY-style pizza. Photo by Julia Weber
Monique Cioffi Hernandez B.B. Lemon
Find Monique Cioffi-Hernandez at Field & Tides. Photo by Jenn Duncan
Lazy Oaks Beer Garden interior
Lazy Oaks Beer Garden is now open in Spring Branch. Courtesy of Lazy Oaks Beer Garden
Pizza Zquare Rosa Grande pepperoni Finn Hall
Jean-Phillipe Gaston
Vinny's pizza exterior
Monique Cioffi Hernandez B.B. Lemon
Lazy Oaks Beer Garden interior

Editor’s note: Houston’s restaurant scene moves pretty fast. In order to prevent CultureMap readers from missing anything, let’s stop to look around at all the latest news to know.

Openings, closings, and coming attractions

Pizza Zquare will be Finn Hall’s newest tenant. The first restaurant from owner Francisco Sierra, the stand will serve Roman-style pizza (by-the-slice or whole, square-shaped pies), cold cut sandwiches, salads, and desserts. It replaces Mr. Nice Pie, which closed in March.

California-based restaurant Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar has brought its classic comfort food to Cypress. The eclectic menu offers everything from pot roast and bacon-wrapped bison meatloaf to a Nashville hot-style portobello mushroom. Desserts — butter cake, gluten-friendly carrot cake made with almond flour, etc. — are all made in-house. Judging by all the raves on the Cypress Area Foodies and Fooding Facebook group, the two-week old establishment is already winning fans in the neighborhood.

Oporto Café served its last meal July 27. Owner Rick Di Virgilio told the Chronicle he opted not to renew the lease on the space near Greenway Plaza, but the restaurant will reopen with a new name in a new location. Of course, he also promised to reopen the Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen when it closed last year, and that hasn’t happened (yet). Oporto Fooding House & Wine, Di Virgilio’s more sophisticated Midtown restaurant, remains open. 

Speaking of the Queen Vic, its former space on Richmond Avenue has a new occupant. Olive & Twist, a restaurant that describes itself as serving “new American cuisine,” recently opened for dinner service. The eclectic menu offers a wide range of options, including pasta, burgers, steaks, and lavash pizzas. 

Off the Hook, a quick service Cajun restaurant from Thibodaux, Louisiana, has brought its fried seafood baskets, po’boys, and gumbo to north Houston. The restaurant is open daily at 125 Remington Valley Dr. 

Ice cream sandwich purveyor Smoosh has opened a second location in Katy at 9550 Spring Green Blvd. Formerly a food truck, Smoosh opened its first location in the Heights last year. The dessert shop’s success is a testament to the powerful alchemy of combining freshly-baked cookies with ice cream and creative toppings.

People on the move

Jean-Philippe Gaston has left his role as Kata Robata’s chef de cuisine. Instead, he’s planning to work alongside chef Jose Carlos “JC” Redon at a series of pop-up dinners in Europe. His plans for the future are uncertain, but his dual French citizenship allows him to work oversees. Veteran Kata cook Dexter Nguyen will step in for Gaston.

Tastemaker Awards bartender of the year nominee Monique Cioffi-Hernandez has departed B.B. Lemon. She tells CultureMap that she valued her role as beverage director for Ben Berg’s modern diner but that the time has come to launch her own project. Until that happens, fans can find her behind the bar at Field & Tides in the Heights.

Other news and notes

King’s BierHaus has brought back its popular all-you-can-eat sausage promotion. Through the end of August, feast on six different traditional sausages — bratwurst, Polish sausage, spicy Kielbasa — for just $9.95 or add exotic and plant-based sausages to the selections for $12.95. The offer is available at the BierHaus locations near the Heights and in League City, as well as the original King’s Biergarten in Pearland.

EaDo pizzeria Vinny’s has added New York-style pies to its menu. Available by-the-slice or whole, executive chef Paul Lewis developed a dough recipe that yields a traditional, foldable slice. Vinny’s signature pepperoni, sourced from sister concept Revival Market, gets cut a little thinner on the NY-style slices so that it curls up when cooked.

If the best thing about Common Bond Café & Bakery is its signature pastries, then the worst is the sometimes lengthy wait to acquire them. Thankfully, a new online ordering platform will make the process easier. Available via the cafe’s website or an app, customers simply place their order then head straight for the cashier to pick it up. The process even works for people who are dining-in and decide they want to take something to-go without getting back in line.