Executive Chef Returns to Houston Restaurant Scene & Joins Italian Eatery in Rice Village
After a long absence from Houston restaurant kitchens, executive chef Kevin Bryant is returning to the scene. He’s accepted a role at Roma, the Italian restaurant located at 2347 University in Rice Village, with an official start date of Wednesday, February 2. (Roma’s prior chef was Sandro Scarafile, who held the executive chef role in the restaurant’s early days, left for a while and then returned in June 2021.)
For now, diners can expect to see a continuation of the existing menu of scratch-made Southern Italian dishes, such as pastas, seafood, meats and vegetables. Beginning in late March, however, Bryant will be infusing the menu with his creativity. Over the past month, Bryant and owner Shanon Scott have been collaborating on new recipes and tweaking some of Roma’s customer favorites. “We couldn’t be more thrilled about bringing Kevin on board,” says Scott of his new executive chef. “He and I are breaking down each dish on the menu. From the ingredients to preparation and plating. He is so talented.”
Bryant hopes to infuse Roma’s Southern Italian menu with a playful perspective and more emphasis on the sensory aspect of dining. This includes bright flavors that incorporate seafood and seasonal ingredients whenever possible. “Of course you will see my love for seafood on the new menu, but outside of that, we will all have to wait until it’s released to see what we have planned. No spoiler alerts here 😉,” shared Bryant via text.
Bryant has more than 20 years of professional experience in the industry, along with extensive expertise as an outdoorsman. Locals will remember him from Tony’s, where he was trained in the art of Italian cooking under legendary restaurateur Tony Vallone, and from the long-closed Eleven XI Restaurant in River Oaks. He also opened Aquarium Restaurant concepts and Oceanaire, worked as a private chef and as corporate chef in Katy. In between restaurant stints, Bryant traveled the world for four years preparing meals for disaster relief programs.
He and Scott became acquainted through the restaurant scene and have maintained a long-time friendship. Bryant even took his now-wife, Marie, to Roma on their first date, and years later, the couple chose it as the site of their wedding and reception.
Roma opened four years ago in bustling Rice Village, and has become a popular location for approachable Italian fare. Scott originally operated Sud Italia in the same location, which was also known for a robust menu of Italian specialties.
Patrons can look forward to the continuation of the in-person and virtual weekly wine dinners, expanded catering services and new menu dishes. “As we’ve expanded and fine-tuned our wine program,” adds Parzen, “the only thing we were missing was a chef who really knows great wine like Kevin. I couldn’t be more geeked about presenting our first winemaker dinner together.”
Roma is open Monday through Wednesday 5 to 9:30 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Call (713) 664-7581 for reservations, and visit the website for more information.