Emmaline Rolls Out Impressive Summer Menu

Emmaline, Sam Governale’s Napa-inspired restaurant at 3210 West Dallas, has launched a new summer menu for lunch and dinner. Inspired by his travels and suggestions from from his Montrose and River Oaks customers, Governale developed the menu in partnership with acclaimed chef-consultant Omar Pereney and Emmaline’s chef de cuisine Danielle Mokuau. Houston Food Finder was invited to sample selections from both menus at a recent media tasting event.

Over the past 18 months, Emmaline, which features a beautifully designed space that combines notes of southern charm and Napa Valley-chic, has impressed some and underwhelmed others. The new menu aims to expand on its strengths and refine past shortcomings.

Crudo di pesce bianco. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam.

With a renewed focus on Mediterranean-inspired light seafood dishes and a raw bar, the lunch menu features a variety of crudos, including a refreshing Scallop Crudo with housemade watermelon sorbet. For dinner, the raw bar showcases an elegant and affordable Caviar Cicchetti (Italian small bite normally served alongside wine) atop over a chilled soubise cream for only $18 — or paired with a chilled glass of single-estate Belvedere rye vodka for $21.

An assortment of starters and light plates, available at lunch and dinner, include Black Truffle Deviled Eggs, Bruléed East Coast Oysters with a sauce of two Italian cheeses, La Tur and Fontina, and Seared Tuna Salad with yellowfin tuna and watermelon.

The South Pizza. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam.

Emmaline’s renowned fresh-pasta program endures with favorites like the Lamb Pappardelle, while the kitchen’s Italian influence has expanded to include handmade pizzas with crisp, fresh-baked Neapolitan-style crusts.

Governale and company are making better use of the kitchen’s wood-fired grill by using it to prepare several new entrées. At dinner, these include an impeccable Butterflied Whole Branzino served over Israeli couscous and topped with a salad of lightly pickled, shaved vegetables. Another knockout is the massive, family-style veal chop with green peppercorn demi-glace, served with market greens and polenta fries over herbed crème fraiche. The veal, cooked to an immaculate medium rare, is served bone-in and sliced.

Branzino over Israeli couscous, topped with vegetable salad. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam.

Dessert is just as impressive. The menu features a towering Backyard Coconut Wedding Cake, Buttermilk Panna Cotta and a mouthwatering Banana Gelato Split topped with blueberries, kettle corn and caramel drizzle.

Emmaline’s new direction is more than just a menu update. The lunch and dinner dishes feel like a soft relaunch — a second grand opening. The fare is entirely re-imagined and more refined. For a River Oaks-adjacent restaurant with a tucked away location and stunning decor, the new menu is the finishing brushstroke on what may have previously been an incomplete picture.

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