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[Houston] Dolce Vita


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FINALLY got to go here and was not disappointed. Had the roasted mushrooms with "ricotta rosso" and mint, beets with horseradish, prosciutto platter, and fried anchovies to start, then split the pancetta/leek/robiola pizza. All the choices were tough; there wasn't a thing on the menu I didn't want. All the pastas sounded great, too.

Most definitely Batali-inspired menu and flavor combinations and he did everything well. I was particularly impressed with the mushrooms; you'd think when you see them come out, nestled in a bowlful of tomato-tinged ricotta that it won't work, but they play very well off each other. All the flavors used that night were very pristine and distinct, I thought. Excellent pizza; I thought it tasted like "onion soup on a pizza" but no one agreed with me.

And service was great; our waiter was very knowledgeable and attentive and we did not feel rushed at all. We talked at length with him about Sabor, Wiley's newest addition, a Mexican seafood and tapas place that just opened in the past month or so.

Ah, Houston. You've done it again.

Missed ya, FM!

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FINALLY got to go here and was not disappointed. Had the roasted mushrooms with "ricotta rosso" and mint, beets with horseradish, prosciutto platter, and fried anchovies to start, then split the pancetta/leek/robiola pizza.  All the choices were tough; there wasn't a thing on the menu I didn't want.  All the pastas sounded great, too.

Most definitely Batali-inspired menu and flavor combinations and he did everything well.  I was particularly impressed with the mushrooms; you'd think when you see them come out, nestled in a bowlful of tomato-tinged ricotta that it won't work, but they play very well off each other.  All the flavors used that night were very pristine and distinct, I thought.  Excellent pizza; I thought it tasted like "onion soup on a pizza" but no one agreed with me. 

And service was great; our waiter was very knowledgeable and attentive and we did not feel rushed at all.  We talked at length with him about Sabor, Wiley's newest addition, a Mexican seafood and tapas place that just opened in the past month or so.

Ah, Houston.  You've done it again. 

Missed ya, FM!

Looks like you had a great time Kevin! Next time we will hopefully share some pizza.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Went to DV again last weekend and it was very good again. I still thik I like the Rubiola/pancetta pizza more than the Truffle/pear pizza? different strokes for different folks. Also tried a bite of a friends braised lamb dish that was spectacular!

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

I was just in Houston for the first time on a business trip. After a little research I settled on Dolce Vita, which is right next to Indika (I pulled into Indika's parking lot by mistake). We had a great meal at Dolce Vita.

It's full name is Dolce Vita pizzeria enoteca and specializes in gourmet thin crust brick oven pizzas. We had a robiola, leek, and pancetta pizza as an appetizer, and seared sea bass with a white wine lemon butter sauce as a main course. Thre mini cannolis and cappuccino were excellent for dessert.

Indika looked interesting but I guess I'm glad we chose Dolce Vita.

Edited by Parmhero (log)

"Yo, I want one of those!"

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For my wife's 30th birthday she wanted to go to Dolce Vita and meet a few friends for a nice meal and some wine. Since there were five of us, we really got to try several things:

Antipasti:

- Anchovies with peppers, parsley and bread cubes. These were the best of the bunch IMO. I more or less ate the whole thing myself. The white anchovies were briy, oily and went great with the roasted bell peppers. These anchovies easily rival any of the best Boquerones I had in Spain. Kevin, we have to order this if we ever do manage to meet here.

- Culiflower Sicilian style. this was ok, nothing special. The addition of grapes and pinenuts was very nice.

- The excellent brussels sprouts with pecorino

- A bowl of fantastic mixed olives

- Fried mozzarella en carozza. I was told by my table mates this was an excellent rendition of mozzarella sticks topped with capers :smile:. I did not taste it and opted to finish my anchovies instead.

Pizza:

- Robiolla with pancetta and leeks

- Tallegio with pears

- Melanzanne (eggplant) pizza

- Margarita

- A special pizza for that night with meatballs and mozzarella

I am really hard pressed to pick a favorite out of these five. DV really has the best pizza in town and everyone at our table agreed. I guess the Margarita is the only one I was not too crazy about.

Dolci:

- Sorbet bowl. nice and refreshing

- Nocciola cream cake. Good but a little too sweet for my taste

- Dolce de Latte cake. Very good.

Wine:

- Two bottles of Barbera. Very reasonably priced and very good.

A few negative things about DV though. This is our third time there and the service is not bad, but it is not very good. The servers seem uninformed and very uninterested in what they are doing. I really don't mind it that much as long as my food is served on time and my bill does not show things I did not order, but it is a bit bothersome if your waiter (his name was Jesus BTW) who you barely see tells you the Nocciola is an "angel hair" cake...we guessed he meant "angel food". Again I am just nitpicking here, the service is acceptable but reminds me of Bennigan's. I expect a little more, maybe not Mark's service level, but not Bennigan's either.

The other thing that bothered me that night also had something to do with the service. I never expect anything for free for a B-day and I think anyone who does should go eat at Chucky Cheese. This time they never asked if we are celebrating anything and I never told them, but it was obviouse that it was my wife's B -day from the couple of gifts she got and the cards and all. So, when our waiter brought us that Dolce De Latte cake without us asking, I thought "wow, that's nice of him...he really didn't have to do that". I was a bit surprised to see a charge for it on my bill though. When I ask what that is, he says "oh, it's the birthday cake we charge for it". I told him well but I did not order it. He apologizes and goes to take it off the bill and says "well it's her birthday it's what we do". I have never heard of anywhere that does that?! I mean why bring out a dish someone did not order it and then ask them to pay for it? I really would be surprised if that is DV policy.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I'm not sure if we went on the same night, but the pizza special was the same as when you had it. Me and four other friends went this past Saturday and had a great time.

For the Antipasti we had the selection of the Pesce appetizers which included the marinated whitefish, salmon which I believe had arugula, calamari with oranges and mint, and octopus with rapini. Each was good, though nothing was really outstanding, with the salmon being the best of the bunch. They were out of the anchovies which FM raved about so my girlfriend who is vegetarian got to pick out the brussels sprouts with the pecorino which was really good.

For our entrees we got two pastas, the special bucatini with sausage, onions, and capers, and the gnocchi with ragu, and also the melenzanne pizza which I thought was very, very good. I had to push for it, but my friends let me get the egg on top of it which I recommend for any pizza. We had a bottle of Vermentino "La Cala" from the Sella & Mosca producers, which is one of my favorite bottles just because it goes so well with food. It's light, with nice touches of minerals.

For dessert we had the Dolce Latte Cake which was very nice, but I preferred the Dark Chocolate Torte with Cherries because it tasted like a denser version of a Black Forest Cake (not the traditional kind with the buttercream, the kind you can get in Chinatown)

A few negative things about DV though. This is our third time there and the service is not bad, but it is not very good. The servers seem uninformed and very uninterested in what they are doing.

I really did not experience that in my two visits to DV. Both the times we had exceptional service with the waiter being able to explain in length what was to be served. They even went as far to explain why the pizza wasn't cut and why the pesce was served at room temperature to my friends, which I thought was a nice touch. I found both that I've had to be pretty professional, but I guess sometimes it's just the luck of the draw. Maybe next time you'll get someone better, hopefully you do because the food really warrants it.

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I really did not experience that in my two visits to DV. Both the times we had exceptional service with the waiter being able to explain in length what was to be served. They even went as far to explain why the pizza wasn't cut and why the pesce was served at room temperature to my friends, which I thought was a nice touch. I found both that I've had to be pretty professional, but I guess sometimes it's just the luck of the draw. Maybe next time you'll get someone better, hopefully you do because the food really warrants it.

We were there on Friday and ate all the anchovies apparently.

That really is good to hear and actually reminds me of another thing. Our pizzas were all sliced and of course I asked if they changed their non-slicing policy. Our waiter said they do slice it if it is a big party and people might want to share. I thought that was a nice touch (can u imagine slicing through the Tallegio with arugula pizza on our own).

It is great that your waiter was so professional and informed hopefully next time we'll get him (remember his name?), and this might sound bad but I honestly think in all our experiences there was a small language barrier. Our waiters' English just was not very good and they did not articulate or seem to know much about the menu beyond basic stuff (hence the angel hair versus andgel food cake thing).

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I want to even say Jesus was our waiter when I went last summer. At any rate, whoever our server was was also very knowledgeable and really into the food. Had a great time talking to him. Frustrating then that it can be so uneven.

Marinated anchovies are a glorious thing. We had fried anchovies and they were somehow even better. I had to talk my parents into getting them when we went, but our waiter joined in and endorsed them thoroughly. And now, my parents surprise me by mentioning every now and again how they keep craving those fried anchovies but they're not on the menu when they go back.

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We went with a group of 6 a week ago (Saturday, November 18). My wife and I ordered the Robiolla with pancetta and leeks, but didn't like it. The pancetta was a little gamey (I know that sounds weird). Probably a case of different tatses for different people. And the pizza was sliced. Everyone else really enjoyed their orders. The samples I tried were very good. One person ordered the fish plate and siad it was divine (her words, not mine).

The one glitch in the night was wine. I ordered a barbera off the wine list. 5 minutes later, the waiter returned to say they did not have it. I then ordered a Super Tuscan. 5 minutes later, the wine steward comes by tells me they don't have the bottle I ordered and gives me a different wine list. Apparently, I was ordering off a two month old wine list. We poured our wine at the same time the pizza arrived.

"As far as I'm concerned, bacon comes from a magical, happy place" Frank, John Doe

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Not to pile on, but I live nearby and go to Dolce Vita whenever I possibly can. The pizza really is the best in town, and there's lots of other great aspects of the place. Many of the a la carte vegetable dishes are exquisite. Wine list is pretty good. They have some fun fancy cocktails. I eat at the bar when it's really busy, or fi going with a group, plan on an off night.

The place is so cozy, affordable, and delicious that I've gone on consecutive nights more than once. It's a welcome addition to Houston and I hope the prices never go up.

Alison Cook's review was excellent.

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The cocktails tend to be relatively sweet but good nonetheless. I had some of my wifes watermelon margarita that was pretty tasty for a summer night.

Thanks J, I'll see what they have next time around. Hopefully some more seasonal stuff using real Italian spirits like Campari.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  • 4 months later...

This is really becoming one of our favorite casual eateries in town. We stopped by this Friday evening and tried two new things:

- The pizza special, topped with burratta, zucchini blossoms and sausage. Definitly the favorite and utterly delicious.

- I got the Spicy Calabrese which was pretty good but not in the least bit spicy. The 'spicy' sausage, while tasty was not spicy and tasted like a fine dry cured sausage (think pepperoni). If you are a big Pepperoni lover and want to try something 'safe' and one of the cheapest menu items, give this one a shot.

For antipasti we stuck with our favorites, Anchovies with sweet peppers and the shaved brussle sprouts with pecorino.

Can anyone tell me why on earth so many restaurants decide to serve their red wines so warm? Last time even at Mark's I had to ask them to chill the bottle for some time to make it drinkable. In this case we just got two glasses so we just drank them as is. Still, wine whould not be served at higher than 70F..red or white.

Edited by FoodMan (log)

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I forgot to post that my last foray here on our most recent Houston trip was as stellar as the first time. I'm bowled over by the mushroom, ricotta, and mint antipasto. They had culatello (yay!), the "heart" of the prosciutto that's very hard to come by stateside. Pizzas were also great. We had a version of the Margherita but with buratta instead. Love, love, love this place.

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There's been grumbles here and there about the service but I've not encountered it. I think, too, that the appeal to this place for me at least is its simplicity: they present things as they are or not tampered with (a plate of imported cured meat for example, and nothing else), so sometimes I guess people may go expecting more.

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There's been grumbles here and there about the service but I've not encountered it.  I think, too, that the appeal to this place for me at least is its simplicity: they present things as they are or not tampered with (a plate of imported cured meat for example, and nothing else), so sometimes I guess people may go expecting more.

Very true. As I've mentioned in previous posts, service here is ok at best IMO. It can be spotty at times. The food however has never failed us.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  • 2 weeks later...

i'm surprised no one has mentioned the truffled egg toast appetizer. it's a thick piece of crusty country bread topped with an egg (not sure if it was fried over easy or dropped into the bread and broiled), parmegiano-reggiano, truffle oil, and shaved black truffles. for $12, one of the best deals in houston, hands down.

"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks."

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, 1937

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