Coltivare – A Houston Favorite

Coltivare changed my opinion of not only the Houston dining scene but the Texas dining scene in general. That back garden area with a classy cocktail and wine bar is just the best and I’ve never felt more transported outside of Houston to a countryside or even Hamptons style restaurant ever than I have here. It’s not surprise as every single one of my friends here have told me it’s their favorite restaurant and at this point, it’s several years old! The menu is rather large with Snacks, Salumi, Salads, Small Plates, Pizza, Pasta, Entrees, and Sides. As if it’s not already hard to make  a decision! We started with the Salad that has Texas Peaches, Braised Duck, Chiles, Hazelnuts, Arugula and Parmesan. Everything here changes seasonally and those peaches were perfect for a nice summer evening. I also really loved the tender duck and don’t think I’ve ever seen it in a salad like this before.  Those who aren’t comfortable with duck and think that it can be tough will sure be blown away by this one. The Cauliflower with Pinenuts and Raisins is another thing to talk about. I loved this dish so much I was almost counting how many pieces were left in fear that I wasn’t going to get to take it down all by myself, because you know, you might want to. The plump raisins and crunchy pine nuts are always really my favorite way to eat and prepare cauli. The Texas Corn on the Cob with Basil, Aioli, and Parmesan might not reach out at you, but at first bite of that crisp corn and herby sauce, you will definitely jump for it!

(duck salad and cauliflower)

We indulged in the Ravioli Tallegio with Hen of the Woods, Charred Onion Broth, Walnuts and Local Squash. I’m more of a gnocchi person, but the broth was so good. Although, I did prefer the pizza to the pasta. The options are endless and creative in a way that you’d never call this a “pizza place” even if that is the only thing you ever come here for, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. The bread feels more like focaccia to me than a traditional pizza, and I love them for this! The sauce is lighter red and smeared across the bread instead of dumped on. We got the Local Heirloom Squash with Piperade, Pine Nuts, Oregano, Toma, and Balsamic. The bread is doughy, airy, and dense all at the same time. The fresh vegetables make you feel alive, especially when you are literally sitting in the garden next to the herbs and other ingredients that you are shoving in your mouth.  Other pizzas that were available were: Yukon Gold Potatoes, Oyster Mushrooms, Rosemary, Taleggio, Duck Egg, Black Garlic Oil; Revival Pepperoni, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Greens, Parmesan; Shredded Pork, Local Peppers, Onions, Chiles, Smoked Cheese, and Fennel Pollen. Another side that caught my eye that could be misunderstood as a sleeper if you look at all the delectable options on the menu are the Slow Cooked Backyard Green Beans with Salsa Verde. This salsa verde is my hero and they should probably make a pizza with it!

Coltivare sealed the deal for me and made me excited to check out what other chefs in Austin are bringing to the table. This is the kind of restaurant you want to eat at every night as you can eat some of the best seasonally vegetables and feel like you are indulging. Or you can just actually order a bunch of pizzas and pastas. Their wait time packs it in pretty early, so be prepared to wait an hour or so and enjoy yourself with a glass of wine or Moscow Mule in that garden!