In my almost two years of living back here in Houston, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I'VE REVISITED A RESTAURANT IN THIS BLOG.
I wrote about my amazing trip to Coltivare with my friend Christy back in May, and I figured that was that. But when I went recently with my boyfriend Jon and our friends Heather and Dan, we tried a dish that was a total game-changer. Jon and I split their spaghetti with black pepper, Parmesan, and olive oil (rather, I had about 2 bites, turned around, and it was completely gone, THANKS A LOT JON IT'S A GOOD THING YOU'RE CUTE), and I'm telling you it was an earth-shattering experience. I couldn't not write about it.
"I SO value my female friendships!"
"Instagram is my social media drug of choice!"
"I never met a cheese I didn't like!"
And specifically in the world of this blog~~> "x is the best y I've ever had!"
And here's my new one: "The spaghetti with black pepper, Parmesan, and olive oil is the best dish I've had in Houston."
I sincerely mean this, so please do not take what I've said with a grain of salt. I'll admit I often I get excited and *maybe* a little over-the-top enthusiastic about food on this here blog. But I have never been more serious in my life with regards to food when I talk about this dish.
Determined to go back to Coltivare and revisit this incredible pasta (and secure more than a few pathetic bites, JON), we took my parents there for dinner. It was a Saturday evening, the restaurant opened at 5:00, we got there at 5:45, and we were told there was an hour wait (which we expected). We had a drink out in the beautiful heated garden, and ended up only waiting 30 minutes.
My folks offered me a bite of this vibrant salad comprised of local citrus, arugula, mizuna backyard radishes, avocado, lemon aioli, and pink peppercorn. This was a very light and refreshing salad that gave hint to summer and warmer days on the horizon. It's hard for me to get truly jacked up about a salad because in general they make me feel sort of dead inside, so while this dish didn't blow my mind (like, oh I don't know, WHAT WAS TO COME), I appreciated the light, delicate, palate-cleansing nuances it offered.
Jon and I started off with with a side of brussels sprouts.
I have now had this dish twice, and in both instances was witness to a complete brussels sprouts-hater 360-conversion (Dan and my Dad). Tossed with shallots, the smoky brussels tasted like they had been extensively marinated in balsamic vinegar (while not at all overbearing) and roasted to complete perfection. This simple side is elevated to such complexity due to its preparation. It is something that diners really need to experience.
Now onto the entrees....
My mom and dad split the pasta of magnificence (which we'll get to shortly) and this pizza, which was topped with local meyer lemons, Texas chevre, green and black olives, and rosemary. I had tried this pizza on my previous visit, and it was outstanding. I learned back in the spring when I had their seasonal potato rosemary pizza that Coltivare had mastered the art of creating pizzas that were equal parts filling, comforting, indulgent, and astoundingly light. This one was no exception. The tangy lemon mixed beautifully with the salty olives and creamy chevre against the soft, doughy crust.
Jon and I decided to split their four cheese pizza, topped with mozzerella, fresh ricotta, Parmesan, and Point Reyes blue. Have I told you guys I've never met a cheese I didn't like?
We absolutely adored this pizza. Even Jon - who has met a cheese he doesn't like and it happens to be blue - gave it an enthusiastic two thumbs up. The plethora of gooey cheeses balanced perfectly with the fresh, fluffy crust, and we didn't feel skimped on - or conversely, overpowered by - anything. I could still taste my beloved blue, though it was pleasantly muted by the soft ricotta. The union of the cheeses was delightful, and once again, the pizza still managed to be relatively light.
Those Coltivarian wizards.
But you guys? It's that time.
I think we need to look at it from another angle.
And another for the sake of posterity.
I'm sitting here at a complete loss for words on how to eloquently start this portion off, but I'm going to try to do my best.
Coltivare's spaghetti with black pepper, Parmesan, and olive oil (which nbd Garden & Gun rated one of the 10 best dishes of the year in 2014) is a completely other-worldy experience. And it blows my mind because, true to other Coltivare offerings, it's so simple: spaghetti. black pepper. Parmesan. olive oil. That's it! Which is why I'm so utterly baffled at the insane complexity of this dish. The freshly made thick, smooth spaghetti is the perfect vessel for the rest of the ingredients. The velvety olive oil forms the Parmesan and cracked pepper into beautiful melty clumps, which are woven throughout the pasta. The dish is warm, soft, intricate, surprising, fulfilling, and seriously transcendent.
So go there. Get this. And I'll say it again:
The spaghetti with black pepper, Parmesan, and olive oil is the best dish I've had in Houston.
And there's one more for good measure.