What's Eric Eating Episode 162
Unwrapping a Houston pita favorite, plus Tony Vallone remembered
On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Rafael Nasr joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Craft Pita, his casual Mediterranean restaurant in Briargrove. The conversation begins with Nasr explaining how he combined his Lebanese heritage with his experiences working for restaurants like Island Grill and Pappasito's to create Craft Pita.
Nasr covers a wide range of topics, including the ways he shifted operations to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, lessons learned during his first year of service, and his recognition on Yelp's list of America's top 100 places to eat in 2020. Despite all the success, Nasr recently felt compelled to respond to a negative review that questioned Craft Pita's authenticity. As he explains, Craft Pita uses recipes inspired by his family and ingredients imported from Lebanon.
"The reason for my reaction and typing that response on social media is because it's not the first time I've heard that comment," Nasr says. "He said quote-unquote 'this is the white people version of Mediterranean food.' Since then, he's changed his comment to say 'Americanized version.' Just because our restaurant is organized, clean, and gives good service does not mean its whitewashed. Frankly, it's racist to belittle any ethnicity's small business to say they're not capable of going above and beyond a dirty restaurant that gives bad service."
The interview ends on a more upbeat note. Nasr acknowledges that his restaurant has been designed to grow and that he's in the process of looking for a second location.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Michael Fulmer discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: sharing memories of Tony Vallone, the prolific restaurateur who died last week at the age of 75; The Burger Joint's announcement that it will open a third location in Webster; and Katz's opening a new location in The Heights.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the duo discuss their recent meal at Killen's, Ronnie Killen's recently opened comfort food restaurant near Washington Avenue. They also rave about the pastries served by chef Christina Au at her recent pop-up.