One of the joys, few they may be, of driving from Dallas to Houston on a Sunday is a stop for the new Sunday brunch at my friend Aldo el Sharif’s restaurant in the Woodlands. Actually, yesterday was the first time the new Aldo’s has served brunch at all, and (having been through such days with many chef-friends before) I won’t say I was expecting the worst… but I was certainly ready for it.
All was well, it turned out, with a nice, happy, comfortable crowd enjoying the food with the piano stylings of fixture Lee LaForge, and drinking the bellinis and mimosas. I even got to sample a new bloody Mary that, with its skewer of shrimp and olives, doubled as an unofficial shrimp cocktail. Most of all, I was excited to check out the very interesting Festa di Frittata, represented by the steaked-up version above.
As you probably know, a frittata is the “national omelet” of Italy, except that it’s baked in the oven instead of more or less fried in an omelet pan. And that opens the door to frittate – see, I’m pretty good at Italian grammar – topped with wonderful things like shrimp Provencal, prosciutto di Parma, Italian sausage and meatball (pictured above), grilled chicken and mushroom, even that grilled skirt steak.
On Day One, or at least what I would call Brunch One, Chef Aldo told me that 70 percent of his customers ordered brunch items – all reasonably priced at $11 to $19. But that meant 30 percent took advantage of his brunch-only deal and a half: a soup or salad (go for this Tuscan white bean soup with Italian sausage), an entree from the dinner menu and dessert for only $30.
Before I could waddle out the door and make my way to Houston, Chef Aldo proudly showed me the first of several wine racks he was having custom-built for Aldo’s Cucina Italiana. He was justly proud of the craftsmanship in the dining room, with more of the same coming to the roomy bar area. In the spirit of the late great Leslie Nielsen, someone eavesdropping on our conversation observed “Nice rack!” And I could only nod, just a little bit speechless for once.