Houston Italian Restaurant Brings Classic Cuisine to Washington Avenue

Chef Ed's 7 Layer Lasagna at Passerella

Passerella, one of Houston Food Finder’s best new restaurants of 2022, has opened a second location. The new spot is located at 6011 Washington, near the roundabout and away from the street’s heaviest traffic. It features the same menu as the original at The Boardwalk at Towne Lake in Cypress, so guests can enjoy the same great Italian and Italian-American fare without traveling leaving the 610 Loop. Houston Food Finder was invited to check out the new location.

Italian Beef Meatballs at Passerella.
Italian Beef Meatballs at Passerella. Photo by Ryan Baker.

Passerella does not reinvent the wheel, instead serving an expansive menu of tried-and-true classics. Beginning with complimentary herb-loaded focaccia, it becomes apparent quickly, the food will not be bland. If you are a fan of charcuterie boards, Passerella offers a must-try assortment. The restaurant makes what it can in-house, such as the breads and pickled vegetables, and is meticulous about sourcing the rest of the ingredients. The board comes in two sizes and, on our visit, had out-of-the-ordinary, delicious cheeses with rosemary and mustard as the driving flavors. Another appetizer, Italian beef meatballs served on a bed of garlic confit polenta, could easily work as an entrée. The Texas Wagyu meatballs (yeah, I don’t get the idea of ground Wagyu, either), are covered in thin pomodoro sauce and topped with fresh-cut basil. As a polenta fan with high standards, I’m happy to report that multiple experiences with it have been great. It is well-cooked, with the right amount of moisture, and carries the richness from the garlic, as well as savory acid from the tomato in the pomodoro.

Classic Caesar at Passerella
Classic Caesar at Passerella. Photo by Ryan Baker.

Unless you’re an anchovy fan, seeing flash-fried anchovies on top of your Caesar salad may be intimidating, but have faith that it will be great. The classic salad also features crisp baby romaine tossed with a pleasantly salty, savory and spicy housemade dressing that offers more thickness than the bottled varieties, and is finished with breadcrumbs and crunchy Grana Padano tuiles, all on top of a garlic confit paste. Similarly, the Tuscan Soup (think Olive Garden’s under-appreciated Zuppa Toscana, but better), is aesthetically simple but packed with flavor. Not a common sight on menus, the soup has a gentle, creamy base, made hearty with spinach, potatoes and pancetta, and spiced up with Italian sausage.

Pizza Diavola at Passerella
Pizza Diavola at Passerella. Photo by Ryan Baker.

There are a few types of entrées available, such as pizza, pasta and protein/vegetable combinations. There are a few pizza options listed on the menu, as well as a chef’s special. The Diavola has been available for both trips, and it is topped with mozzarella, basil and charred, spicy salami. 

Passerella has more than half-a-dozen pasta dishes to choose from, including fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken marsala and Chef Ed’s Seven Layer Lasagna. If the other pastas are anything like the lasagna, you won’t be leaving hungry, regardless of which you order. Even stacked with sheets of pasta and layers of cheese, the meat is well-seasoned so as to still stand out. Non-pasta main courses include herb-crusted lamb, pan-seared duck and New York strip steak.

Chef Ed's 7 Layer Lasagna at Passerella.
Chef Ed’s 7 Layer Lasagna at Passerella. Photo by Ryan Baker.

For dessert, Passerella has a few options such as almond butter cake, salted caramel budino and a tiramisu assembled table-side. The restaurant has a full bar, with a few cocktails that feature an Italian influence, such as a house amaro boulevardier, the Sicily or the “I”talian Margherita, which replaces the orange liqueur with amaretto. There is a short but respectable by-the-glass wine list, as well as a lengthy bottle selection. The by-the-glass selections come from a variety of regions, but bottle selections have plenty of Italian options.

Passerella is open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m to 10 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations are available through the website.

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