Lawd knows I love a good bowl of pasta. It’s comfort food, carbo-load heaven, and darn right delicious. Luckily, Houston has a plethora of spots to dine in Italian heaven. In alphabetical order–because picking a favorite Italian joint is like picking a favorite child–here are all our favorite places to enjoy a beautiful bowl of pasta in Houston.
Your Tuesday Ritual (544 Yale St.). The neighborhood bar, BLT, is the brain child of infamous Houston cocktailer Bobby Huegel and James Beard award winning Chef Justin Yu–two names to know in the food world. The fresh made pasta at this Heights bar is becoming a Tuesday ritual. The pasta is an off-the-menu special that’s only offered on Tuesdays (a nod to Coltivare being closed this day). Each week they offer a Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta and a special pasta dish that changes each week. Check their Instagram the day of to see the latest concoction. The vibe is super casual. You order at the counter, get a number, and servers bring you the food. Trying out the cocktail pitchers (while they’re in season!) are a must — bring friends because you need 3 IDs. Pasta Tuesday is the perfect way to spend the evening on the patio watching the sun set in the Heights.
“Every day should be Pasta Tuesday.” – Anastasia
Garden Party (3320 White Oak Dr.) The location, menu and energy of Coltivare is hands-down awesome. First it’s got an incredible garden where they grow many of the ingredients and herbs used in the dishes. Second, the menu has everything you want for pizza pasta, and the makings of a great date-night. The only catch is that it’s notoriously hard to get a table, as they don’t take reservations. So be prepared to wait 45 minutes to an hour–even on a week night! Don’t make too many plans after dinner because you’re sure to be in a blissful food coma.
OG Houston Pastas (813 Jackson Hill). Family owned and open for over for 25 years, Patronella’s is a piece of Houston history. Stepping inside you feel like you’re taking a step back in time with hardwood floors, family photos on the wall, Christmas lights, and eclectic decor. The cozy home, built in 1938, was originally an Italian grocery store in the Sixth Ward. Now converted into a restaurant, it boasts my favorite lasagna in town–meat and vegetarian versions offered.
Pairs well with cookies and wine (1834 Westheimer Rd.) This renowned pasta spot in River Oaks is owned by Paul Petronella, Houston native. The Italian restaurant boasting housemade pizzas and pastas has an adjoining wine bar, Camerata, and renowned cookie specials (follow them on Insta). Given that all Italian food someone makes for a super cute date spot, Pauli’s is no exception. Place your order at the counter (sometimes the line can be long), and select from an exquisite menu of fresh baked pasta. All dishes are incredible and made-in house. The dishes might be a bit pricey, but the serving sizes are HUGE, so come prepared to eat.
Pre-Show Pasta (700 Milam St.). The floor to ceiling windows and sky blue interior welcomes guests into the cozy little corner shop in Downtown Houston across from the Jones Center. This spot is the perfect place to get a bite to eat pre-show in the Theater District. You definitely want a reservation at Perabacco (especially on busy show nights), but at the same time don’t expect the chaotic Italians running around the place to pick the phone up on the first try. Once you’re seated, expect a nice sizable portion of olive oil with fresh garlic and spices to nibble on with bread. The pasta menu is succinct and full of fresh ingredients. I ate a special of orecchiette with eggplant and fresh cheese. Split a bottle of wine with your date and you’ll be perfectly primed to go before your show! Like an airport, the restaurant knows how to turn tables over to ensure you make it in time for a performance.
Flamboyantly delicious (1117 Missouri). If you’re craving pasta with a side of sass, look no further than Riva’s Italian Restaurant in Montrose. Wise-cracking servers take orders from a menu filled with all your classic comfort food pasta staples– spaghetti and meatballs, fettuccine alfredo, etc. Go for the four course pasta meals (my favorite is the capellini marinara with veggies) and stay for the $5 glasses of wine–superbly heavy pours. Given that each pasta dish is served with garlic bread, soup and salad, unlikely you’ll leave hungry (or sober). Celebrating a birthday? The whole restaurant is encouraged to sing and as you blow out the candles the owner proclaims “I love the way you blow.” There’s a reason there’s a sign posted on the doors that the restaurant may not be acceptable for children under 12. Mark your calendars for the Christmas season because the regular strands of twinkling white lights that adorn the vine covered house explode ten-fold with rainbow light strands, inflated Santas, and other sparkling holiday decor that covers literally every inch of the restaurant interior.