Russo’s New York Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen

300-foodThe Artist Palate | By Alisa Murray –

It is always nice to find a spot where almost every time you walk through the door you run into a friend. Russo’s Italian Kitchen is such a place. There have been many Sundays after church or on a weekday afternoon when I drop in and not only always find something perfectly prepared and satisfying, but also warm and friendly faces to socialize with while dinning.

Allyson Huston, owner of our local Russo’s New York Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen in Missouri City, offers the traditional fares that are designed for menus for the franchise by Anthony Russo, who is also a family friend. But, Huston also boasts two head chefs trained both for over 15 years in the industry and one with the very prestigious Le Cordon Bleu certification. They are a small business that also supports our community through various organizations, and they shop fresh locally to support other small farm to market businesses.

Together, the trio creates off-menu specials and dining experiences that are some of Missouri City’s little secrets. Huston’s Chicken Milanese is a breaded chicken breast that is pan-seared with capers, fresh Roma tomatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, drizzled with her white wine lemon garlic sauce and finished on a bed of fresh arugula.

Allyson Huston and Alisa Murray.

Allyson Huston and Alisa Murray.

The Harlem Beet Salad with sautéed shrimp, coal-fired beets, Gorgonzola cheese, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, kalamata olives, fresh Roma tomatoes and pistachios, drizzled with pomegranate vinaigrette dressing is one of Brian’s favorites. The salad is a complete meal, and for those of you who have people in your lives who are reluctant to eat “green,” this one is something to try!

Huston’s Spaghetti Di Mare consists of fresh shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari, swirled together in a spicy Pinot Grigio marinara sauce on a bed of spaghetti. If you are a seafood lover like me, then this is the dish for you! My favorite, however, is her Spinach and Artichoke Napoletana Pizza topped with spicy Italian sausage, fresh spinach, artichoke hearts, mozzarella cheese and roasted garlic in a creamy Alfredo sauce. I ask for her to add extra fennel seeds, because that’s the way I like it.

The Chocolate Truffle Cake.

The Chocolate Truffle Cake.

There are always lots of wonderful sweets to choose from, and when it comes to Italian desserts, it’s hard not to want to try them all! James Edward loves the Chocolate Bombs and Cannolis, Victoria Ann loves the Cheesecake and Tiramisu, and Brian loves the featured cake: The Chocolate Truffle Cake. It is a real showstopper with multiple layers of dark chocolate cake sandwiched with chocolate truffle icing.

I asked Huston what sets the restaurant apart. “Our signature Russo’s formula – the freshest, premium ingredients, our time-tested traditional family recipes, the sense of Old World charm and hospitality – but here in a more convivial setting and with a gourmet edge,” she said. “We make every effort to recreate this ristorante feeling of Italian cooking in its natural environment, with time-tested recipes, garden-fresh vegetables, pasta that isn’t dried and cheeses that aren’t processed.”

When I asked her what she loved the most about being a restaurateur,  she said what I could already see every time I walk through her door. “My guests,” she said with a pause. “Watching our guests sit down with their family and friends enjoying the food we have prepared – that is what we are here for.” Being there is just like being at home. Bon appétit!