Numero28 Brings Italian Comfort Food to Highland Village
We need your support to continue bringing you informative articles about Houston’s food and beverage scene. You can help by signing up for as little as $3 on Patreon. Some membership tiers include rewards, too!
You can’t help but think of the movie “Eat Pray Love” while dining at Numero28, the new, casual Italian restaurant at 3974 Westheimer in Highland Village. Reading through a menu consisting of fresh, housemade pastas, pizzas and Southern Italian classics will have you mentally playing a movie montage of Julia Roberts slurping up Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, indulging in a pizza Napolitana and learning the art of dolce far niente – the art of doing nothing.
Located in the space that was once David Guerrero’s Alma, Numero28 has created a cozy and charming atmosphere in a less than scenic area tucked behind a Crate and Barrel by adding fresh flowers and plants and a trellis to partition off the outside patio area. It’s a pleasant neighborhood spot serving comforting and hearty food.
Numero28’s origins are in New York where the first location’s address was 28 Carmine Street in the West Village. With sister restaurants in Austin and Dallas, co-owner and operator Bernardo Nolfo, a restaurant industry veteran and native of Sicily, and partners Marco Borghi and Rolando Biamonte quietly opened Numero28 Houston location at the end of August.
Numero28 hosted Houston Food Finder for dinner where we sampled some of the restaurant’s signature dishes. I sat outside on the patio to enjoy the cool, clear evening. So, it seemed appropriate to start with a classic Negroni (Campari, sweet vermouth, finished with gin served over ice). The drink menu consists of other classic cocktails such as an aperol spritz, and Bellini, but also features some fun twists like a Basil Martini (vodka, fresh lime juice and muddled fresh basil), the Milano Mule, a play on a Moscow mule with grappa and limoncello. The wine list spans Italy and California and has very good Super Tuscan wines at a reasonable price point.
Every item on the antipasti list was inviting, but as a meat lover, the polpette and carpaccio were a must try. The polpette, Italian meatballs, were made from veal and served covered in housemade marinara sauce and topped off with melted mozzarella. The sauce was rich and slightly sweet, and the tender veal melted in my mouth. As good as the polpette was, the carpaccio was probably my favorite dish of the night. The raw beef was sliced paper thin. You could see straight through it. It is served Venetian style, topped with arugula, shaved parmesan cheese and drizzled with extra virgin olive. When the dish is brought to the table, the server finishes it off with a reduced balsamic and you’re instructed to squeeze lemon liberally over it. Each bite was bright, citrusy with a peppery bite from the arugula and a nutty finish from the parmesan.
The breads, pizza dough and pastas are made daily. It was a no-brainer to order the namesake Numero28 pizza with speck (smoked prosciutto), mozzarella, mushrooms and truffle cream. When the pizza hit the table the scent of truffle wafted from the piping hot pie. The crust was light and had a perfect crispy char on the edges and the bottom.
I would have been remiss to not have ordered the signature cacio e pepe, housemade spaghetti alla chitarra tossed with pecorino, black pepper, a touch of butter, served table side in a pecorino cheese wheel. The beauty of cacio e pepe is its simplicity, all you need are three key, quality ingredients.
One cannot go out for Italian fare and skip dessert. The tiramisu, a cake made of layers of ladyfingers soaked with espresso and mascarpone was essential. Numero28 adds a little panache to their presentation by pouring the whipped mascarpone layer and dusting the cocoa powder on top at your table. The cake was light and airy, and just sweet enough to balance the slight bitter notes. As full as I was, the tiramisu didn’t stand a chance.
Those in the neighborhood have already started to discover this gem. That night the small restaurant was abuzz and there were families enjoying a weeknight dinner, couples huddled closely and a large table of women celebrating a birthday. There are plenty of options for Italian in Houston, but Numero28 is a welcome addition when you just want good, unpretentious food and you want to unabashedly enjoy it.
Numero 28 is open for lunch Tuesday- Sunday from 11:30am – 2:30pm and for dinner from 4:30-9:00pm, and open an extra hour for dinner on Friday and Saturday. They welcome you to walk in but the space is small and it does get busy so we recommend calling ahead.
Minh Truong is an avid lover of the Houston food scene and has written about it since 2011, starting as a freelance contributor for the Houston Press. She never stopped exploring all that Houston has to offer, and after a seven-year hiatus returned to writing about it, this time with Houston Food Finder.