First Bite: Even Just Out of the Gate, New Montrose Restaurant Shines

Over the past few weeks, Goodnight Hospitality, the company that also owns honky tonk Goodnight Charlie’s, has put the plan to take over the corner of Westheimer and Mandell into action. Just within the past few weeks, both Montrose Cheese & Wine and restaurant Rosie Cannonball opened. Still to come is March, an intimate tasting restaurant.

Partners Peter and Bailey McCarthy’s daughter gave Rosie Cannonball its fun name. The restaurant’s menu features ingredients locally sourced from Goodnight Hospitality’s farm in Bellville, but the dishes and wine list seem heavily influenced by Europe and Napa Valley. Rosie’s interiors combine classic Italian elements with monochromatic, earth-toned colors and Southwestern cacti accents to create a warm, cozy atmosphere.  While the bar seating can be a little too cozy, especially if you don’t have a reservation or are waiting to be seated, Goodnight Charlie’s and Montrose Cheese & Wine are just around the corner and good for killing time.

The mushrooms are a must have at Rosie Cannonball. Photo by Julie Soefer.

For appetizers, the papas & mojo rojo is a simple, yet very satisfying dish of whole baby salted potatoes with a side of roasted piquillo sauce for dipping. The little gem lettuces with smoked trout roe are easy enough to eat with your hands, although we did wish there were four per serving instead of three.

Rosie’s five vegetable dishes deliver so much on flavor as well as presentation that each is entrée-worthy. The roasted eggplant with caponata works well combining the textures from the softness of the tomatoes with the crunchiness of the almonds and the grilled mushrooms with hen of the woods, preserved lemon, egg yolk emulsion and chilies is a must have for mushroom lovers (if you have any of the potatoes left, the egg yolk from this dish is good for dipping too).

The real standout among the vegetables though was the charred brassica. The cauliflower and romanesco served in the dish are hung over a custom-designed grill and thoroughly roasted to absorb the smokey aroma. After roasting, the vegetables are wrapped for steaming, rehydrated and roasted again in the oven. Once ready, they are mixed with coal-roasted broccolini, raw endive and raw radicchio; then the entire dish is tossed with mustard vinaigrette and topped off with bite-sized, housemade potato chips tossed with powdered vinegar. The combination of the smoke with the mustard and vinegar flavors, as well as the texture contrasts between the raw and cooked components, are absolutely compelling.

Woodfired Pizza at Rosie Cannonball. Photo by Julie Soefer.

Rosie Cannonball’s owners take their pizza very seriously. Chef/partner Felipe Riccio looked at several options in Italy when deciding on just the right oven and grill combination, which serves as the kitchen’s epicenter. There are currently five pizzas on the menu big enough to be a main course for one person or shared by two to three guests. The topping options range from traditional pepperoni pizza to the not-so-traditional smoked trout roe. For a meatless option, check out the Lira Rosa Three Cheese pizza with wood-roasted red sauce, basil, mozzarella, latteria and cacciota cheeses. (Lira Rosa is a Texas company that makes Italian-style cheeses.) Tip: ask for a side of the wood-roasted red sauce with any of the pizzas for crust dipping.

Rosie also offers three, housemade pasta dishes like the cavatelli al sugo made with bolognese all’Entra, parmigiano reggiano and larger meat based entrees like the Levain Pork Chop made with sourdough-cured pork, parsley potato purée, and lemon farro.

To match the overtly European food theme, master sommeliers David Keck and June Rodil curated a wine list with strong Italian, Spanish and French influences.  Under the whites, the Paolo Scavino ‘Sorriso’ blend of piemonte, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viogner is a solid, well-priced choice, as is the Guimaro ‘Sacra Tinto’ under the reds. The cocktail menu features house classics such as the Old Fashioned alongside original cocktails like the Safe Harbor Sour made with rye, charred grapefruit and lime.
With so many additions to the Houston restaurant scene, deciding where to go can be a hard decision. Rosie Cannonball should be one of your next destinations.

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