Goodnight Hospitality’s already busy summer picks up its pace starting Thursday, August 29. The Montrose-based restaurant group will open the doors to Rosie Cannonball, a southern European-inspired restaurant with an extensive wine list, for dinner service starting at 5 pm.
Rosie Cannonball joins its recently opened sister concept, Montrose Cheese & Wine, on the first floor of a newly constructed building in front of Goodnight Charlie’s, the group’s modern honky tonk. March, a fine-dining restaurant that will showcase the culinary talents of Goodnight chef-partner Felipe Riccio, will open on the building's second floor in early 2020. Rosie Cannonball is currently open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday, but lunch will follow soon.
“Southern European comfort food based around a wood-burning oven and grill: those are definitely the centerpieces of the kitchen, and the menu has been built utilizing them,” Riccio tells CultureMap. “Keeping the essence of what that very simple, ingredient-driven food is in southern Europe — Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal being the leading forces.”
For Riccio and his partners, Rosie Cannonball chef de cuisine Adam Garcia, local businessman Peter McCarthy, and master sommeliers David Keck and June Rodil, opening the restaurant has been a process that’s almost three years in the making. On the culinary side, Riccio and Garcia traveled extensively and worked throughout southern Europe to draw inspiration for Rosie’s menu, but figuring out how to translate that to an American audience proved challenging. They sought inspiration from cookbooks, but that didn't prove fruitful.
“Whenever I put the books away and looked at my photos and videos and Moleskine notes of what I had, I was, like, this is what we need to do,” Garcia says. “That’s when it started to come together.”
The chef cites a dish of grilled mushrooms with preserved lemon and egg yolk as one that’s inspired directly by his time in Spain. Originally, Riccio expressed some skepticism that the dish would be too simple to serve at a price that made sense financially for an elegant restaurant in Houston, but they eventually developed a recipe that makes sense.
“The dish Adam had is a super-traditional, roasted wild mushrooms with egg and sea salt. It’s as simple as it gets,” Riccio says. “We took it in a different direction with preserved lemons and chiles. It still recalls that memory for Adam, but it talks about what Rosie is with the mushrooms coming from the grill and our love for acidity and preservation.”
Similarly, Riccio notes that the rigatoni with pesto and bread crumbs is based on a dish served for family meal at Osteria Francescana, the restaurant he worked at in Modena, Italy, that’s considered to be the best Italian restaurant in the world. Other items on the menu include breads made by pastry chef Shawn Gawle, five pizzas topped with ingredients ranging from classic pepperoni to trout roe, and heartier main dishes prepared on the restaurant’s custom made wood-burning grill.
Turning to wine, Keck acknowledges that he’s spent about three years buying vintages to stock the cellars for all three concepts. To match Rosie’s cuisine, most of the list comes from France, Spain, and Italy, with a few Portuguese, Greek, and American bottles to round things out. One of his specific goals is to offer "the best Beaujolais list around."
The approximately 30 by-the-glass selections start at $9 with most in the $13-$19 range; bottles start in the $40s and go up to the size of a car payment for allocated French vintages and large format bottles.
“A lot of them go with all the food: a lot of bubbles, a lot of white, a lot of rose, a lot of light-boded red wines so you can have a few bottles on the table,” Keck says. “There may be a $40 bottle on the list, but it’s made by somebody amazing, and it’s a great value at that price. Then there’s a $600 bottle that’s also made by people we support and care about.”
Even though Rodil has only been with Goodnight Hospitality since April, she started contributing to the project indirectly long before she joined the company. The sommelier explains that she and Keck would team up to bring interesting new wines to Texas, her on behalf of Austin’s McGuire Moorman Hospitality and Keck for Goodnight’s future concepts. Now that she’s on board, her experience opening 14 different restaurants, food trucks, and catering kitchens has proven invaluable to her colleagues.
“My biggest thing is we all want to be creative and do the things we love the most, but we’ll have more time to do that if there’s a system in place,” Rodil says. “I really want to start off with a good idea of what those systems are and tweak them so we have more time to do the things we love.”
Keck quickly adds, “The idea of opening all these things without somebody who has that experience is terrifying. Having someone on board who can put systems in place? [Before Rodil], we didn’t have shit in place!”
With the systems built and the menus sorted, the time has come to open the doors. The team acknowledges that diners probably have high expectations for a restaurant opened by people with such sterling credentials — two master sommeliers and an Eater Young Gun winner in Riccio — as well as a talented staff that includes Gawle’s time in Michelin-starred restaurants and bar manager Stuart Humphries' experience at places like The Pass & Provisions and Tongue-cut Sparrow. Still, they’re focused on the task at hand and excited to be out of the construction business and back into the making-and-serving food realm.
“At the end of the day, the only thing we can change is what we do here,” Keck says. “What people think of it and how they enjoy or don’t enjoy things, that’s kind of them. All we can do is keep operating at the standard we hold ourselves to.”
Rosie Cannonball; 1620 Westheimer Rd.; Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 3 pm (coming soon) and 5 pm to late; Sunday, 5 pm to late; 832-380-2471.