5 Facts About Coltivare, Opening Wednesday
By Amber Ambrose
January 17, 2014
Coltivare is ready. During a recent sneak peek, partners Morgan Weber and chef Ryan Pera showed off the restaurant's reclaimed wood, explained how they procured 250 pounds of fresh tuna roe to make their own bottarga - a salted, cured fish roe shaved over several dishes - and shared the challenges of having an on-site garden. Weber mixed cocktails like the Averted Gaze with its Amaro Abano, Cynar, lemon and angostura while musing on the building's history as a neighborhood bakery from the 1930s, and the fact that they wanted the place to feel worn-in right from the start. They've done a great job. It feels comfortable already, as if it's always been a part of the neighborhood.
The menu also feels comfortable (with excellent execution from the open kitchen and chef de cuisine Vincent Huynh) - and affordable - with plenty of salumi made from local meats from sister establishment, Revival Market, located just three blocks down White Oak. The menu is broken down into categories like snacks, with chicken liver mousse, giardiniera pickles; salads that will eventually feature fresh produce from the outdoor garden; small plates like the chicken wings with chili and lemon basil; sides of creamy polenta or greens from the garden; a large selection of pizzas like the roasted eggplant, shrimp, pancetta and basil; simple pastas like the satisfying spaghetti with black pepper, parmesan and olive oil or the housemade fettuccine with chili, plump Gulf shrimp, orange zest, parsley and bread crumbs. Large format dishes like a whole wood-roasted fish with steamed garlic and wild sorrel or a pork roast (from Revival of course) with clams, sausage and polenta will be ideal for sharing. Desserts remain true to its Italian heritage with a seasonal crostata, assorted cookies with chocolate hazelnut-infused milk, gelato and a polenta olive oil cake. Price points are $5 for snacks, $12 to $18 for salumi selections, $8 for salads, $10 for small plates, $7 for sides, $13 for pizzas, $10 to $18 for pastas, $18 to $34 for large plates and $4 to $7 for dessert.
In addition to everything we've shared above, here are five more fun facts about the newest addition to the Heights:
1) The cocktail menu was crafted by Weber with a focus on Italian spirits. Amaro, aperol, vermouth and Campari are all integral to the selections. You may have to wait to try one, however, as the restaurant will be BYO until their liquor license is approved. Because they are in a dry area of the Heights, to offer a full bar, they will operate as a private club.
2) Chef Pera went to great lengths to procure and install the artisan-crafted zinc bar. It has personal ties to his career, as it adorned a restaurant where Pera worked in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, along with his brother Matt. Years later, Pera found the bar was being put into storage after a second iteration of the original restaurant closed. He was able to buy the bar and install it in Coltivare to add yet another element of history.
3) Around 20 varieties of edible plants are currently being grown in the adjacent garden, all of which will be heavily utilized for the restaurant's dishes.
4) The restaurant is adorned with only reclaimed wood up to 130-years-old from several sources, including an Antebellum sugar plantation and old homes in and around the Houston area. Even the tabletops are made of the wood, of which all get their deep, rich tone from a natural patina rather than an artificial stain.
5) Weber grew up eating at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Yoakum, Texas where he remembered using the enameled powdered soap dispensers to wash his hands in the bathroom. In the name of nostalgia, he was able to hunt down similar dispensers for Coltivare, as well as the powdered soap to go inside them.
3320 White Oak Dr.; 713-637-4095