John Nechman writes: "Count us as one of the many Houstonians smitten with the Baltimore-based Atlas Restaurant Group's openings of Ouzo Bay, Loch Bar, and now Marmo in the strange hulking edifice next to Katz's known as the Montrose Collective.
The address (888 Westheimer) by itself guarantees good fortune, at least with many of the Asian community! And the restaurant is a stunner, with a spectacular buzzy interior though on a lovely, breezy Friday evening, we chose to sit outside on the expansive sidewalk patio.
Gorgeous setting--check. Next up--service. Outstanding, from our delightful server Alice to food servers who seemed intent to ensure that dishes were before diners within seconds of leaving the chef's hands, to busstaff who unobtrusively kept water glasses filled and plates cleared. We also appreciated Director of Operations Scott Sulma who was also filling in as sommelier and who stopped by often to make sure our every need was met.
Cocktails--brilliant. Richi had a sinfully smooth mezcal-infused Cafe Coretto, and my Sole Toscana was a perfect citrusy alternative to the Negroni I often order at Italian eateries. The wine list is pricey (watch where you point!), but we found an exquisite Donatella Colombini Brunello that managed to compliment everything we ordered.
And the food. Holy ravioli! The only better beef carpaccio we've eaten might (and I stress "might") be the one we had at Harry's Bar in Venezia on our honeymoon 6 years ago. Impossibly thin prime ribeye drizzled with truffle dijonnaise and speckles of some kind of top quality salt that will have you looking with disdain on your canister of Morton's back in the home cupboard. And almost as stunning, a squid ink campanelle with fresh blue crab, uni cream sauce, chili, basil, and a slighty crunchy kick of crumbled bread. These are dishes we'll order every time we dine here.
An heirloom carrot salad and smoked duck breast with sunchoke purée and maitake mushrooms, sided with a cherry lambrusco sauce were also hits, and Richi seemed reluctant to share his rosy red sliced dry-aged rib cap sided with baked garlic. Dessert was a wonderful tiramisu with piping hot coffee.
Not all the many recent high-end additions to Houston's dining scene have hit it out of the park, but Marmo is doing just that. We will definitely add this place to our regular rotation."
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