What's Eric Eating Episodes 330 and 331
Paulie's power players dish on Camerata’s 10th anniversary, plus Houston's hottest food news
On this week’s episode of “What’s Eric Eating,” Paul Petronella and Elyse Wilson join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Camerata, the Montrose wine bar that recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, and Paulie’s, the Montrose staple that’s won the CultureMap Tastemaker Award for Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year.
The conversation begins with Petronella discussing his evolution as a restaurant owner and how he looks for talented people like Wilson to help him manage day-to-day operations. Wilson explains how her background as both a professional cook and sommelier led her to taking over as Camerata’s general manager three years ago.
As Sandler notes, one way Camerata has always stood out is that its staff has both deep knowledge of wine and the ability to share it in a friendly way. That ethos makes Camerata welcoming to both dedicated oenophiles as well as newcomers who may be new to tasting some of the bar’s more obscure styles.
“There is knowledge, and there is hospitality. I think we do a good job at both,” Petronella says. “After 10 years, that comes with reputation. It is part of the vetting process. It’s easy to tell what their knowledge is, but the real test for me — and the biggest point of hiring for me — is their hospitality. Having something for the wine nerd and also making the novice feel comfortable at the same.”
“One of my biggest things when I’m interviewing people is I don’t tolerate arrogance,” Wilson adds. “This is a wine bar that’s meant for people to feel comfortable no matter how much they know wine. If they know nothing, let us find something they like.”
Listen to the full interview to hear Petronella discuss whether he’d ever open a second location of either concept. Wilson previews the bar’s retail wine sale that’s taking place this Sunday, November 19, from noon until 4 pm.
In this week’s other episode, Sandler and co-host Monica Danna discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Jonathan’s the Rub opening a third location in the East End; Washington-based restaurant Medium Rare’s plans to open in Midtown; and Montrose lounge The Flat adding daily coffee service.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Danna and Sandler beginning by sharing some highs and lows from their recent meal at Auden, the globally inspired new restaurant that just opened in the Autry Park mixed-use development. They conclude by raving about a decadent meal at the State of Grace chef’s counter.