Football great opens great steakhouse

May 30, 2008


by Marene Gustin
Daily Court Review

For football fans and steak lovers, last Thursday’s grand opening of Shula’s America’s Steak House in the Hyatt Regency was the place to be.

Legendary Oiler’s quarterback and coach Dan Pastorini and Bum Philips were there as were father and son partners Don and Dave Shula. Even the dinner menu is a football. Yes, a real football.

Taking over the space of two former Hyatt eateries, Shula’s has a main room open to the atrium, two private dining rooms and a lounge. Chef Jess Gamboa oversees the kitchen where the wet-aged Black Angus steaks, specially cut for the chain based on standards that exceed those of USDA prime, are broiled. The filets are mouth melting worthy but we asked Coach Shula what his favorite was.

“The 24-ounce Porterhouse,” he said. “It’s a T-bone on one side and a filet on the other.” And while that sounds like a lotta steak, it’s not the largest one on the menu. Shula says: “We have a 48-ounce steak. If you eat it you get your name on a plaque.”

Son Dave told A La Carte that so far there are 40,000 names of big eaters. And no, Coach hasn’t tried it. “I could never do it,” he said. Do, however, expect to see Coach around town. He plans to spend time in Houston promoting his new restaurant and reminiscing about his second Super Bowl win here back in 1973 at Rice Stadium. 

When Palazzo’s Trattoria moved down Westheimer Road to the old Besso spot, John Moore turned the original location at the corner of Bammel Lane into a banquet hall.  Now he’s turning it into a new white-table cloth eatery featuring Latin grill menu items. “It’ll be more of a date place than Palazzo’s,” Moore said. “With candles on the tables and fine dining.” Pan Y Agua (and yes, they’ll serve much more than bread and water) should be open in about two to three weeks.

It ain’t new, but it’s remodeled: The original Becks Prime on Kirby Drive has a new look. After 23 years it was time to update the interior of the popular inner loop burger joint said Mike Knapp, Becks Prime co-founder and chief operating officer. But don’t worry about the patio. “We kept the funky concrete benches and planters that were part of the original deck,” said Knapp. “Our customers loved them so much they wouldn’t let us replace them.” Where The Locals Eat, the national dining guide, recently selected Becks Prime as the “Best” Burger in Houston, as well as one of the 10 “Best” Burger Restaurants in America.

We don’t know what they feed the ponies out at Sam Houston Race Park, but the two-legged patrons will now be dining on cuisine by new Executive Chef Hugo Gomez, formerly of the Hotel Derek. Gomez takes over the kitchen at both the Winner’s Circle and the members-only Jockey Club. So what’s on the menu?

“I served the duck confit last meet and it was a huge hit,” chef Gomez tells us. “People loved it and I’m sure they would like to see it again.  Matambre is a classical Argentine dish that we also served last meet for our members in Jockey Club on our carving station, and that went over very well, too.”

Sounds like good horse sense to us.

Get ready for the H-E-B sponsored Wine & Food Week in The Woodlands, June 2 through 8. Eight days, 50 events, 500 wines and 50 restaurants. Whew.

Check out for a full schedule, ticket info and transportation information on the event. Besides fabulous food and wine, the event is going green this year, encouraging chefs to use local, farm-to-market produce and even recycling all the wine bottles and plates from the event.

And tomorrow is last call for Nicky’s Week at RA Sushi. Saturday is the final day of the fundraiser for cancer research benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. All of the proceeds of the signature tootsy maki, edamame, pork gyoza, FIJI Water, Red Bull and other select beverages go toward helping the children so stop in and enjoy. Since 2005, RA has raised more than $250,000 at its 19 locations, including the Houston eatery in Highland Village. Good sushi, good cause.


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