Concura, a stylish Italian restaurant near River Oaks, dares to be different

Concura, a stylish Italian restaurant near River Oaks, dares to be different

A initially look at the rigorously limited menu at Concura tells you this is not your common Houston Italian cafe. Cod liver foie gras, fish ragu above dwelling-made chitarini, “tomato bread bowl”… what is heading on here in the city of countless carbonaras, pizzas and stuffed ravioli?

I’ve managed for many years now that “when in doubt, open an Italian restaurant” is a way to make lender in this town. Houstonians appear to be to have an infinite hunger for the comforting verities of the delicacies as it has been interpreted here. In this uncertain pandemic age, that has been doubly legitimate.

However below, in elegant home and magical patio just west of Highland Village, interior designer Jessica Biondi and chef Angelo Cuppone have come up with something that feels and preferences distinctive. As an alternative of the common antica trattoria décor, moody dim tones and modern-day accents land visitors firmly in the current. The menu conjures up the Adriatic Coast that is indigenous to both of those Biondi and Cuppone, with no confining alone to seafood.

It’s a valiant hard work that dazzles when it succeeds and confounds when it doesn’t. Oh, confident, a several confident things like a eco-friendly salad with citrus and burrata dot the bill of fare (it is notably restrained and swish) or the sea bass crudo that is a have to at just about every turn these days (it is great and brilliant and forgettable).

4340 Westheimer at Mid Lane, 832-997-4220

But it is the thrilling small shocks that make this 7-month-aged cafe so welcome. A roulade of rabbit comes crammed with porchetta in a deeply savory, darkly burnished demiglace. The $65 bottle of Dolcetto encouraged by Biondi’s partner, Alessio Ricci, tastes like it charge significantly additional. A trompe l’oeil lemon and white chocolate dessert explodes with tart sweetness.

That cod liver foie gras? It’s daring things, a lobe of pale, pureed fish liver lounging in its very own mini glass bottle, like a museum specimen. Spread it on a hunk of midnight-black “Easter bread” tinted with squid ink, and savor the light maritime funk of it. The cod-liver may perhaps not be for everyone, but if you respect uni and always go for the monkfish liver at your beloved sushi put, you are going to want to check out it.

I’m still considering about that “tomato bread bowl,” as the Pappa al Pomodoro is decribed on Concura’s menu. As an alternative of the typical thick soup treatment method, this concoction of tomato, bread and olive arrives in the sort of a chilled terrine, all innocence. It is so surprising and so rather with its ethereal sails of gossamer bread crisps using on major, like a sensitive bread salad dressed up for a party.

Even extra unforeseen, but not in a superior way, was the harsh, briny iodine taste of the fish ragu that comes with exquisitely slim, squared off chitarrini. The property-manufactured noodles are cut as if by the strings of a guitar, or chitarrra and they came cooked to a great bounce the night time I sampled them. I’d enjoy to try them with a sauce that doesn’t flavor like a mouthful seawater.

One more superbly built pasta right here is the passatelli, brief squiggles built from breadcrumbs, Parmesan and egg. They are tender but not devoid of substance and they are good in a foresty mushroom ragout scattered with black truffle shavings.

Chef Cuppone can be witnessed working in the open up kitchen, and with his dim little ponytail cinched at his nape, he really substantially looks the section in this placing. His very last posting was at Roma in Rice Village, and he’s got some methods up his sleeve.

The most stunning sleight of hand to me was a variation of eggplant parmigiana that appeared, as a dining companion place it, like a few minimal “pizza rolls” that experienced been too aggressively browned. But their mahogany crusts turned out to be manufactured with eggplant skins that Cupoone had dehydrated and pulverized and their insides, crammed with salted ricotta, experienced the requisite softened eggplant squish. They worked.

Vitello tonnato displays up in a remarkably visual present day kind, as a sort of composed salad dependent on thin slices of rosy-centered veal that have been dotted with a tuna emulsion rather than cloaked with sauce. Julienned caperberries and blood orange include a tart shiver.

The so-termed “delicate fish fry” that seems on the menu as a major course — or as a smaller sized, unadvertised to start with training course — could use some tinkering. There is no fish concerned, proper now, in any case just curls of squid and tails-on shrimp, respectfully fried in a gentle, granular coating. But an aioli-sort sauce that came with the dish unsuccessful to ignite it. I stored wishing for a touch of acid and misplaced curiosity section way as a result of the plateful.

So the deeply exciting and the curiously uninteresting coexist at Concura. Both of those manifestations command sobering rates. With first courses ranging from $12 to $18, pastas at $27 to $30, and main dishes at $32 to $37, evening meal here can be an costly outing. But the provider is caring, the wine list engaging, and when the food provides, the tab feels worthy of it.

Primarily so when seated in the patio enclosure, below its lacy metal framework strung with white lights, underneath ancient stay oak trees. With its view of a neighboring pet park that capabilities as a highrise’s village eco-friendly, the room feels a environment absent. Heaters stand completely ready in case there is a chill, together with furry throws that are carted out to guests by the armload.

Rather of Rat Pack and operatic chestnuts, the sound devices provides clubby electronica. It’s a further in the collection of surprises that would make Concura stand out.

alison.prepare [email protected]