The Restaurant Reviews

Once upon a time I did some stuff like this.


Ladies and gentlemen, I have seen the future of the sandwich and it is… The Godfather. The folks over at Ponzo’s have created the best thing to happen to lunch since, well, um, sliced bread. Never before has such a decadent blend of meats and cheeses been combined in such a heavenly way. Imagine six kinds of meat (including the quintessential ingredient of any superior sandwich, mortadella), provolone and Swiss cheese, topped off with lettuce, tomatoes, diced pepperoncini and Ponzo’s own original vinaigrette dressing all served in a toasted roll and you have the inner workings of this superior feast. But wait, you may scoff. No way can a sandwich be a feast. Yes it can my friend, yes it can. Did I mention that The Godfather weighs in at a very macho two pounds and measures an astonishing 15 inches in length??? I’ll pause here so you may loosen your belt and wipe the drool from your mouth.

But don’t think that Ponzo’s is just a one trick pony. No sir. They’ve got a full menu of fresh pastas, homemade pizzas and salads, plus they’ll whip up a mean calzone however you want it. But whatever you do, make sure and save room for at least one cannoli. And by the way, if you can stop at just one your will power far outweighs mine.

And now for the crown jewel in the Ponzo’s experience… the bathroom. You wouldn’t normally expect a bathroom to get any mention at all in a restaurant review, much less be dubbed the “crown jewel”, but then again the bathroom at Ponzo’s is nothing like you’d expect, unless of course your last name was Lewis and you enjoyed writing about a mythical land called Narnia. To get to this enchanted place, you first need to ask permission, then you need to travel though the kitchen to the very back of the building at which time you’ll enter the large, blue walled sanctuary that is Ponzo’s lavatory. We call it a lavatory because we’re fancy. On your left you’ll find a mural of a clown. Straight ahead are two framed prints of a portly chef engaged in activities that are strictly related to rooms in which there is a fair amount of porcelain. But most of all the room is cool, comfortable and relaxing. And in the dog days of a Houston summer you can’t ask for too much more. As a matter of fact it’s not a bad place to hole up and get a little work done. In fact I’m just putting the finishing touches on this article. Oh no, I’ve said too much……

Who would have thought that a little place in a strip mall could produce some of the best Italian food around. They’ve only got a handful of tables (their bread and butter is take out and delivery – which is free), plus they’ve got autographed pictures of John Tesh and Chuck Norris on the wall – that’s so cheesy it’s actually kind of cool. But what let’s you know these people are serious about their cuisine is that more than two-thirds of their entire establishment is set up for cooking and food preparation. And isn’t that the most important thing. Once you’ve tried anything from their menu I know you’ll agree.

The Red Door

Not to be confused with any of Houston’s other monochromatic doored establishments, I’m looking at you Marfreless, The Red Door is anything but a quiet make out joint. From the minute you walk through the entryway for which the club is named, you’re hit with a collection of music ranging from the latest DJ mixes to 80’s pop hits and everything in between. Couple that with a large circular bar and lounge area that Don Cornelius himself would proudly display in his home, (imagine an opium den designed in the spirit of the movie Boogie Nights), and you know you’re in for a helluva good time.

And yes it only gets better my friend. Why? The upstairs patio. This is one of the best places to hang out, have a drink and people watch. With views of downtown to the north, two fully stocked bars and tables and standing room galore, (at least until around 10:30 when apparently everyone and their brother likes to show up), all you need to do is just kick back, grab a cocktail and enjoy the spectacle. If you’re more apt to join in the mayhem, which inevitably you’ll be forced to, you won’t be disappointed. The first night I was there, I thought there must be a minimum looks requirement. Even the ugly people were hot, which if you do the math, increases the odds of hooking up with someone you won’t be embarrassed to tell your buddies or girlfriends about significantly. And now for the final component of any flashy, happenin’ establishment….. the service. In a word, it’s fantastic. It didn’t matter which of the three bars I went to, the bartenders remembered my drink. And in a crowd that big, that’s no small task, or maybe my frequent trips to the bar made it easier to remember me… nah. And you’ve got to applaud the wait staff for maneuvering through the throngs of people without spilling a drop and keeping the orders straight. I’m telling you, the place gets packed.

There’s one other nugget worth mentioning, and in my opinion the most impressive thing of all, if you open a tab at any of the bars it’s piped in through their computer network which means you can order a drink at any bar without the need for a new tab. What can I say I’m lazy and easily impressed. So to sum it up: hip atmosphere, cool music, hot people, and great service with bar wide tab capabilities. I’d bet even the most uptight person could loosen up for a night at The Red Door.