/ The Houston Guide
Houston — By Christina Uticone on March 30, 2010 at 10:49 pm
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Michelangelo’s on Westheimer

On one hand, in a city the size of Houston it’s not hard to find good food – restaurants of every stripe abound.¬† On the other hand, when you¬† have so many choices you run the risk of never discovering some of the hidden gems because there simply isn’t enough time to try them all!

A few months before I  moved to Houston I met a couple who lives here.  We exchanged numbers and now we meet for the occasional bite to eat.  Each time, they have introduced us to a true hidden gem.

Today I want to tell you about Michelangelo’s on Westheimer. Though it is an Italian restaurant I felt I needed to write this review now, before I’ve even eaten dinner there.¬† I went for Sunday Brunch and with Easter just¬†five days away, I felt you had to know about it now!

I arrived ten minutes early for brunch with my friends and the dining room was empty.¬† Michelangelo’s has been serving meals in the same small house since 1969.¬† The staff seated me and a charming waiter named Frank offered me a mimosa while I waited. The table linens were crisp but not overly prim.¬† I looked around to see a piano, complete with a snifter for tips, and a drop, draped-cloth ceiling that gave the place a laid-back, romantic feel.¬† I was shocked and amused to see a live tree growing straight up through the¬†living room-turned-dining room¬†ceiling!

I sipped my drink (garnished with a slice of strawberry, which appealed to my former-bartender instincts) and watched as eager guests arrive for Sunday brunch.¬† Soon a¬†man seated himself at the piano and began playing quietly, creating a cozy atmosphere with Sinatra, the theme to “Love Story”, and a nice rendition of “You Are The Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder.

When my friends arrived we all received our menus.  Our waiter knew my companions very well and was attentive to their personal preferences.  My one friend always requests a glass of ice cubes on the side; Frank brought it without being asked.  I love a good hollandaise sauce so my only real choice was what type of Eggs Benedict I would order.  Besides the classic they offer Sardou (with cream of spinach), Crabcake Bendict, and Gravalox Benedict (with salmon and mascarpone cheese.)  I chose the Sardou.  The rich, creamy sauce mixed well with the yolk of the egg, which was light and fluffy and perfectly poached.

Brunch at Michelangelo’s is served with a delightfully fresh fruit salad (apples, grapes, berries) and a flavorful fried potato pancake on the side…and bottomless mimosas from 11 AM-3 PM. My companions ordered lox and a shrimp salad (Insalada Gamberoni), respectively, and I must admit to coveting the shrimp salad very much after seeing the freshness of the vegetables, the toasted capellini garnish, and especially the excellent texture of the shrimp.

The dining room filled up quickly but between our efficient waiter and an excellent support staff of bussers and runners, food service and place-clearing occurred seamlessly.¬† My husband and I both worked in food service for many years – he as a cook, I as a bartender – and we find that this process can often be done poorly, in a rushed fashion, in an attempt to “turn a table over” for the next party.¬† None of that at Michelangelo’s.¬† Our meal lasted a leisurely 2 hours 15 minutes and I had to beg Frank to stop pouring me mimosas, so determined was he that we stay all afternoon.¬† He tempted us with a complimentary slice of cake that the three of us together could just barely finish – a rich spiced cake with vanilla frosting, chocolate shavings, and the lightest dusting of coconut (easily scraped off for the non-coconut lover in the party.¬† Yes, me.)

Free Wi-Fi makes Michelangelo’s great for a working lunch, something I am always on the look-out for as a freelancer.¬† It has a spacious deck that begs to host private parties and I already plan on taking my husband out for a romantic Saturday night dinner.¬† It’s hard to find a restaurant that can accomodate¬†so much.¬† I’ll return again and again.

Where: 307 Westheimer (map)

When: Monday-Thursday 11 AM-10 PM; Friday & Saturday 11 AM-11 PM; Sunday 11 AM-9 PM (Brunch 11 AM-3 PM)

Parking: Free valet parking (Note: The valet offered me a complete car wash for an additional charge, which I fully intend to take advantage of on my next visit.)

Prices: Dinner entrees range from $14-$34/plate; Brunch $12-$25/plate

Dress: Business casual dress requested

Photo credit: Christina Uticone

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