By Greg Morago
Marmo, a modern Italian chophouse, opens today as the first major restaurant in the spiffy new Montrose Collective. It also arrives with a promise.
Diners who enjoy the restaurants from Marmo’s parent company – Atlas Restaurant Group, which operates Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar at River Oaks District – can expect more Houston projects from the busy hospitality group. Atlas founder Alex Smith said the company has major expansion plans for Houston, including a sushi concept, a seafood restaurant, and a cocktail bar.
“We love this town. We love the people,” Smith said during a standing-room-only preview party on Saturday. “We’re definitely going to do more projects here.”
The Baltimore-based Atlas began work on Marmo during the height of the pandemic, signing a lease at the buzzy Montrose Collective in Lower Westheimer in January 2021. Inspired by the success of its Baltimore sister restaurant Tagliata, Marmo is the city’s stylish new player in the upscale restaurant scene. Opening April 6, Marmo makes its grand entrance with all the accoutrements of stylish, high-end dining: a 22-page wine list; a dry-age program for its Prime steakhouse cuts; a grand piano with live entertainment nightly; and marble everywhere (marmo is marble in Italian).
The restaurant’s indulgent menu, curated by Atlas chef/partner Julian Marucci, will be overseen by executive chef Eli Jackson. Starters include artisanal charcuterie, oysters on the half shell, hamachi with passion fruit and squid ink rice chips, and antipasto selections such as meatballs with whipped ricotta, blue crab bruschetta, Tuscan fried chicken and calamari with Calabrian chili.
The house-made pasta program churns out spaghetti alla chitarra; tagliatelle with veal ragu, lobster ravioli, squid ink campanelle with fresh blue crab and uni cream sauce, ricotta-filled pasta with morel mushrooms and asparagus, and smoked potato gnocchi with Texas wild boar sauce.
Entrees include salmon with farro verde, duck with sunchoke puree and cherry Lambrusco sauce, red snapper with caramelized fennel, Texas quail saltimbocca, and Italian classics such as chicken marsala, chicken parmigiana, veal chop Milanese, and eggplant parmigiana. The steaks and chops menu includes 45-day dry aged New York strip, cowboy ribeye, and porterhouse cuts. There’s also an American wagyu outside skirt steak, Japanese A5 wagyu steak, and a veal chop. Steak sauces: pecorino black pepper hollandaise, porcini bone marrow sauce, black garlic mostarda, salsa verde, and rosemary beef fat butter.
There’s also a familiar face running the show: director of operations Scott Sulma, who Houston diners know well from his long association with Tony’s and later at Atlas’ Ouzo Bay.
“Houston has always had an affinity for quality Italian cuisine, and I am ecstatic to be part of the team bringing this high-quality addition to the Montrose area, a longtime dining destination for both locals and visitors,” Sulma said. “Marmo is special because it has the unique ability to be both a casual neighborhood restaurant and an elevated dining destination.”
That new journey into elevated dining in Montrose begins today.