River Oaks's newest destination for classic Italian fare has made its debut. Lulu's is now open for lunch and dinner.
As CultureMap reported last year, Lulu's is the latest project from Armandos owners Cinda and Armando Palacios. Named for Armando's nickname for Cinda, the couple have brought an upgraded version of the Round Top-based restaurant to the same River Oaks shopping center as Armandos.
“The two most important things at Lulu’s are love and pasta," Cinda Palacios, CEO of Palacios Murphy Hospitality, said in a statement. "We wanted to create a space that celebrates the art of gathering — especially after the unprecedented year we had in the restaurant industry. Lulu’s is about simple but refined comfort food. Sharing space, good wine and enjoying each other.”
While its owners are fully capable of showing love to their diners, they hired executive Jose Monterrosa to assist with the pasta. The Guatamala-born chef brings extensive experience from Washington, D.C. and Georgia to his role, including a stint with James Beard Award winner Fabio Trabocchi.
Fans of the Round Top location will be pleased to see the restaurant's signature lobster ravioli and pasta carbonara on the River Oaks location's menu, but chef Monterrosa has also introduced a number of new options. They include bucatini all'amatriciana, spaghetti vongole, pappardelle bolognese, fusilli cacio e pepe, and a delicate ravioli al uovo.
Similarly, mains like braised short ribs, grilled branzino, and chicken marsala have received updated preparations compared to their Round Top counterparts. The menu also offers salads, starters, pizza, and dessert. Pair them with classic cocktails, three zero proof drinks, wines by-the-glass or bottle, or beer.
To transform the former Stone Mill Bakers space into Lulu's, Palacios Murphy retained New York-based architect Rocco DiLeo of RDstudio, inc. Tasked with recreating the charm of the original Round Top location's setting in a stone building that dates back to the late 1800s, DiLeo used repurposed tobacco wood on the ceiling and designed a bar that matches the original location's rustic appeal. In addition, found art from Round Top gives the space a vintage feel.
Currently, Lulu's is open for lunch and dinner daily beginning at 11:30 am. Weekday breakfast and weekend brunch are planned for the future.