I have been a fan of John Sheely’s cooking since his days at the initial location of the Riviera Grill in Westchase nearly two decades ago. His skill with a variety of different ingredients and cuisines has been evident in numerous visits to his establishments over the years. Though it has been a small part of the offerings, I have especially impressed with the few Italian-inspired dishes I have had, especially his ragù Bolognese at Mockingbird, layered with flavor and heartily enjoyable, much more so than typical restaurant versions.
Though that dish from Bologna is testament to Sheely’s studied skill rather than part of his patrimony, I remember him telling me that one of his favorite dishes as a child was his grandmother’s ravioli filled with calf’s brains. Her family was from near Genoa having immigrated to Galveston. Calf’s brains were long considered a delicacy among northern Italians. It was actually commonly found in the nicer Italian restaurants in this country a century and more ago.
Though helping to honor the memory of that cooking, even if it is doubtful calf’s brains will be offered, Sheely is slated to open an Italian-themed restaurant in the Galleria area in April (brain-like sweetbreads, in fact, will be taking a turn inside those pasta envelopes). To be called Osteria Mazzantini after his mother’s family, the 130-seat space with an 80-seat patio will be located at 2200 Post Oak Lane, just a block from the Galleria in the newly built BBVA Compass Plaza.
A pizza oven and Sheely’s significant talent with seafood and at the grill will be on display. Entrée prices at dinner are expected to range from $19 to $36. Below is a sample dinner menu:
Pasta e Fagioli with Andouille Sausage and Pancetta
Marinated Beet Salad with Fennel, Herbed Sheep’s Milk Ricotta and Pine Nuts
House Cured Salumi Board with Apricot Mostarda and Crostini
Prosciutto di San Daniele, Arugula, Grilled Figs and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Porcini Mushroom Creamy Polenta and Asiago Fonduta
Margherita with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella
Spicy Lamb Meatballs, Tomato, Ricotta, Green Peas and Mint
Gorgonzola, Prosciutto, Pears and Spicy Pecans
Black Pepper Linguine, Duck Confit, Portobellos, Rapini, Dried Tomatoes, Port Wine Reduction
Cappellini filled with Poached Seafood and Shellfish, Saffron, Roasted Tomatoes and Pesto Genovese
Pappardelle with Wild Boar Sausage, Oyster Mushrooms, Pears and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Sweetbread Ravioli with Wild Mushroom and Grape Sugo
Whole Grilled Red Snapper with Baby Artichokes and Yukon Gold Potatoes
Grilled Swordfish with Fennel and Citrus Salad, Rapini and Warm Agrodolce
Chicken “Alla Griglia”, Rustic Potatoes, Porcini Mushroom and Sweet Pepper Ragù
Grilled Pork Chop, Braised Red Cabbage, Pancetta and Gorgonzola Cream
Veal Osso Bucco with Riso Neri and Toasted Pine Nut Gremolata
Bone-In Rib Eye “Tagliata” for Two with Grilled Portobellos and Arugula
Rustic Potatoes with Garlic, Rosemary and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Grilled Zucchini with Basil and Orange
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Organic Spinach with Crispy Chickpeas and Ricotta Salata
Budino Gianduia, Chocolate Mousse, Candied Hazelnuts
Pear and Pine Nut Crostata with Nutella and Rosemary Crème Fraiche
Artisanal and Reserve Cheese Plate Traditional Garniture
The restaurant will also have paninis and large salads at lunch, as well as a bar menu featuring small plates.