The pace of restaurant openings may have been slowed by COVID-19, but new concepts continue to make their debuts. Next up, an Italian and Mediterranean-inspired eatery with roots in one of New York City's finest restaurants.
Ostia, a restaurant from chef-owner Travis McShane, will open this Friday, September 25 in Montrose. McShane grew up in Kingwood, but his culinary experience stems from working in New York for chef Jonathan Waxman, the legendary chef widely credited with bringing the farm-to-table movement to New York with his pioneering restaurant Jams and the Italian-influenced Barbuto. Starting as an extern during his time at the Culinary Institute of America, McShane worked his way to executive chef at Barbuto; ultimately, he would serve as Waxman's corporate chef who oversaw operations in New York, San Francisco, Nashville, and Atlanta.
Back home, McShane brings all of those experiences to Ostia's menu, which features a farm-to-table menu grounded in Italian techniques with many dishes prepared in a custom-built oven. Diners can expect dishes such as fluke crudo, whole shrimp with harissa, and ribeye with anchovy-garlic butter. McShane will also put his spin on Waxman's famous roast chicken.
"The amount of chicken I’ve roasted in my life is unbelievable,” McShane told CultureMap in April. “We’ll play with different chicken ideas. It’ll be simple, homey, roasted, crispy skin, beautiful, perfect for sharing.”
Ostia will also offer an extensive selection of housemade pastas. Look for chitarra with garlic, rabe, and wild arugula, gnocchi with cherry tomatoes and corn, bucatini with guanciale, roast tomato, and pecorino, and more.
"At its heart, Ostia is a neighborhood restaurant, a place to hang out with friends and family to enjoy a delicious meal together whether you live around the corner or not,” McShane said in a statement. “My wife Charlotte and I have had amazing culinary journeys, many of which have shaped me personally and guided my vision. Our goal is to bottle those experiences up and serve them to Houston diners in a unique, approachable and thoughtful environment. We aim to be an every-occasion dining destination that happens to serve remarkable tastes in a memorable atmosphere."
To create that atmosphere, McShane turned to California-based designer Jon de la Cruz of DLC-ID. The 3,900-square-foot space has been divided into three distinct spaces — the main dining room, the bar, and the indoor-outdoor greenhouse room — plus a 600-square-foot patio. In total, the restaurant will seat approximately 165 people (but will operate at 75 percent in keeping with State of Texas regulations).
De la Cruz's design incorporates an open kitchen along with exposed brick and polished concrete floors. Details include "bluegrass-colored walls," plants in wooden barrels, and copper gas lanterns on the patio.
"The inspiration for my first-ever Texas project came from Travis’s experiences cooking in different regions around the country," de la Cruz stated. "The overarching design is meant to capture the industrial mood in the West Village and the casual elegance of a coastal California bistro with a heavy dose of Southern hospitality mixed in for good measure."
Ostia will be open for dinner Tuesday - Sunday beginning at 5 pm. Lunch will follow October 1, with brunch coming sometime in the near future.