Cane Rosso’s Menu Gets The Houston Chef Treatment
When Dallas-based pizza purveyor Cane Rosso announced in April that it had tapped acclaimed Houston chef Jonathan Jones as executive chef of the company’s Houston and Austin locations, fans of the daring chef likely started salivating. Jones is known for his memorable cuisine at the original Max’s Wine Dive, Beaver’s, Xuco Xicana and, most recently, as culinary director of El Big Bad. Matt Wommack, another longtime local chef known for his work Prohibition Supperclub & Bar, and Uchi, is in charge of the kitchen a Cane Rosso Montrose.
The gregarious Jones, known to friends as” JJ,” has retooled the menu for Cane Rosso’s Houston locations to better connect with the zealous local food culture. The changes include adding some much lighter fare to compliment the hearty pizzas and pastas. The Neapolitan pizzas are still the stars of the show, though. Baked in a 900-degree oven for less than 90 seconds, the pizzas are prepared with dough and mozzarella that are made in-house daily, brushed with a bit of olive oil and a few leaves of basil.
Jones and Wommack hosted a media dinner on June 1 at Cane Rosso Montrose to debut the new menu items and culinary approach. The evening started with a sampling of newly crafted cocktails created by Chris Frankel (formerly with Spare Key, RDG + Bar Annie, Anvil) that spanned from light and fruity to bold and boozy.
Frankel’s cocktail list include the Red 5, a take on an Aperol Spritz, is made with Deep Eddy Ruby Red vodka, Aperol, lime and prosecco. Additional drinks on the new cocktail menu include the Patio Weather, made with Cana Brava rum, St. Germain, habanero honey, lime and basil; and the Safari Campari, a mix of Tequila Cabeza, Campari, watermelon and mint. Cocktails are all priced from $8 to $9.
The kitchen then delivered a parade of pizza, with the Funghi “P.L.E.” pizza standing out as a crowd favorite. This fragrant creation features quadrello di bufala cheese (water buffalo milk cheese), fire-roasted mushrooms, rosemary, sottocenere al tartufo (black truffle cheese) and habanero honey. Another standout was the all-cheese 4-Funk Maggi, a play on “quatro formaggi,” featuring a selection of four funky cheeses. Pizza prices range from $11 to $16.
Light starters include an unusual raw asparagus and prosciutto salad, a tangy marinated carrot concoction with pickled golden raisins and ground pistachio in a spiced vinaigrette. Tri-colored cauliflower arrives fire-roasted in a small crock of bagna cauda, a warm anchovy-garlic dip. Starters range from $4 to $16.
Jones also introduced a few new pasta dishes. The Cresta di Gallo, made with roasted chicken, arugula, mushrooms, chicken broth, lemon and grana padano cheese delivers triple umami with every bite. Delivering subtle heat and a not-so-subtle black pepper kick, The Coal Miner features bucatini pasta topped with ghost pepper guanciale, egg, pecorino and barricato al pepe (smoked pepper). Pastas are not made in house, but sourced from artisanal pasta producer Pasta Tavalo. Pasta dishes are priced from $12 to $18.
Jones daring vision and Wommack’s precise execution are sure to fascinate Houston food enthusiasts and help Cane Rosso shed some of the Dallas stigma that may have initially dissuaded hard-core Houston diners.