There are a few restaurants in Houston to which I return again and again, because they are serving food that is good, and honest, and selling it at prices that are fair. One is named Giacomo’s, and it is owned by Lynette Hawkins, who has been in the business a long time and knows what she is doing.
I had lunch at Giacomo’s today with a friend who had never been there, and I knew that he would love the Swiss chard ravioli; it is one of my favorite dishes in Houston, and reminds me of the malfatti (also with Swiss chard and ricotta) served at Al Di La. (I ate those malfatti on a weekly basis at that little place in Park Slope, followed by rabbit and polenta.)
Today I ordered something I had never had at Giacomo’s: mozzarella in carrozza. The menu describes them as “little fried mozzarella sandwiches, anchovy caper sauce.” Two small sandwiches come in a bowl, the bread caressed by a delicate and very authentic sauce, a sauce so good that I would surely have no problem drinking a cup of it. The bread is slightly crisp, and though I wish it and the cheese had been a bit warmer, I can’t wait to introduce these things to Angela.
I convinced Jack to try the tortelli di bietola (ravioli stuffed with Swiss chard, ricotta, goat cheese, sage butter sauce). Again, this is one of my favorite dishes in Houston; I have eaten a lot of pasta around the world, and this plate at Giacomo’s stands up to the best of them. Paper-thin ravioli filled with a mixture of cheeses and chard, nestled on a plate in a rich sauce. It is perfection, simplicity at its best. Jack concurred.
While Jack was discovering Hawkins’ ravioli, I began eating my gnocchi. I have had this dish before at Giacomo’s, and this time it seemed especially good, mainly because the mushrooms possessed a pronounced funky, earthy flavor, something missing during a previous visit. The sauce – cream and gorgonzola – is always wonderful, not too thick, not too thin, and the potato gnocchi are obviously made and cooked by someone who understands the process.
Giacomo’s is a gem, really. No pretension, congenial and adept staff, and an owner who knows her stuff. Plus, they sell wine by the quartino and have a good and value-priced list. Haven’t been? Correct that oversight soon.