Sommelier’s picks: Italian wines from Potente’s Vinny Montecuollo

Sommelier’s picks: Italian wines from Potente’s Vinny Montecuollo

Houston Chronicle By Dale Robertson June 26, 2017

Who: Vincenzo Montecuollo, wine director at PotenteVinny Wine Director Potente Houston

Background: Growing up in a small coastal town 30 minutes north of Naples, Montecuollo first tasted wine that his father made only for family consumption. At 21, he landed in Bristol, England, where he worked for a Piemontese family and learned to speak English at their restaurant. A trip to Orlando, Fla., led to a job at Disney World – “I worked for Mickey,” he says – and he later moved to Miami, then Grand Cayman, landing a spot with Casanova, the famous waterfront Italian restaurant in Georgetown. It’s how he met his wife, Linda, who was vacationing on the island and happened to be from Houston. The rest, as we say, is history. Before joining forces with managing partner Bill Floyd at Potente, owned by Astros owner Jim Crane, Montecuollo immersed himself in the city’s high-end dining scene with postings at Tony’s and Da Marco, restaurants “that made me the wine person I am today.”

The wine: 2010 Poliziano Asinone and 2010 Marchesi Antinori La Braccesca Santa Pia Riserva

Why: Montecuollo says, “I’m lucky to be able to do what I love the most – introducing wines I love personally to my customers.” These two Vino Nobile di Montepulcianos are front and center on his list because of the long history of viticulture in the region, which dates to the 13th century. Made from the prugnolo gentile grape, a sangiovese grosso clone, they both offer “leather and tobacco, fresh violets and finish long,” he says, well representing a superb vintage in Tuscany. “The wines were aged 18 months in cask, then a year in bottle,” he explains. “The Asinone is an iconic example of Vino Nobili di Montepulciano, and the Braccesca is made from 50-, 60-year-old vines, with low yields but bigger fruit. They are extremely well made and, with our low markups, they offer great value.” Note: Vinous critic Antonio Galloni gave the Asinone a score of 93 and James Sucking awarded it a 92.

Price: $80 for a bottle of the Asinone and $60 for the La Braccesca at Potente, 1515 Texas

10 amazing soft-shell crab dishes to try right now at Houston restaurants

10 amazing soft-shell crab dishes to try right now at Houston restaurants


10 amazing soft-shell crab dishes to try right now at Houston restaurants

 Soft Shell Crab PotenteIf you’ve ever cracked the protective hard shell of a blue crab, working overtime to get a glorious bite of tender meat, you know the task isn’t easy. So, from around May through September, when crabs shed their tough exteriors making them entirely edible, and with ease, we get positively giddy. And so do chefs around town who are busily adding them to menus.

From grilled to traditional deep-fried, here are 10 delicious soft-shell crab dishes to check out now — while they last.

Granchio Ripieno at Potente
Sink your teeth into a crispy crab stuffed with jumbo lump crab and presented with couscous and tomatoes at downtown Italian eatery Potente. A layer of tangy salsa verge aioli on the bottom of the plate adds the finishing touch. ($29)
1515 Texas Ave.; 713-237-1515

Fried at Riel
At Riel restaurant in Montrose, tempura-fried crab is joined by sauteed ong choy (water spinach) and an over-the-top house-made tamarind vinaigrette, a deliciously-secret blend of more than 30 ingredients. ($25)
1927 Fairview St.; 832-831-9109

Grilled at Coltivare
From now through the end of the month, Coltivare in the Heights is home to a delectable grilled crab creation. It’s served with fennel, tomato, shiitake mushroom, and a hit of vermouth. ($28)
3320 White Oak Dr.; 713-637-4095

Baked at Prego
Score a duo of romano-cornmeal crusted crabs at Rice Village’s Prego. The briny beauties, pan-sauteed and then baked to perfection, are topped with jumbo lump crab, heirloom tomatoes, grilled asparagus, and a white wine sauce. A pillowy potato-truffle ravioli comes on the side. ($40)
2520 Amherst St.; 713-529-2420

Karaage at Kata Robata
Dig into the seafood delicacy at Upper Kirby’s Kata Robata. Here, it’s lightly fried and accompanied by tempura peppers, plus a side of spicy Singapore sauce for your dipping pleasure. ($18)
3600 Kirby Dr.; 713-526-8858

Build-your-own taco at Pico’s
Get your fill of the summer staple at Pico’s restaurant, where the kitchen serves up your choice of two or three jumbo fried crustaceans, along with Mexican rice and habanero-chipotle salsa. Wrap it all up in a tortilla for an out-of-this-world bite. ($29 for two; $39 for three)
3601 Kirby Dr.; 832-831-9940

Fried at Underbelly
The mouthwatering dish at Montrose’s Underbelly boasts fried soft-shell crab, corn maque choux (a medley of corn, green bell pepper, onion, celery, and tomato), and a green tomato relish. Get yours now: This dish leaves the menu at the end of the month. ($24)
1100 Westheimer Rd.; 713-528-9800

Salad at Backstreet Cafe
Cozy River Oaks eatery Backstreet Cafe offers up a seasonal salad featuring the tender delicacy. It’s perched atop a colorful mound of tomatoes and blistered corn for a delicious summer treat. ($15)
1103 S Shepherd Dr.; 713-521-2239

Pakora at Kiran’s
The soft-shell crab at upscale Indian eatery Kiran’s is coated in cornmeal and rice flour, seasoned with Indian spices, and fried until golden brown. It’s complemented by fried green tomatoes, ginger remoulade, and a green salad topped with peach-jalapeño chutney. ($22)
2925 Richmond Ave.; 713-960-8472

Fried at Yauatcha
Upscale Chinese dim sum teahouse and patisserie Yauatcha adds almonds and a spicy touch of chili oil to its crispy soft-shell crab, available year-round at the Galleria hotspot. ($15)
5045 Westheimer Rd.; 713-357-7588

Big Changes Defined Houston’s Food Scene Last Month

Big Changes Defined Houston’s Food Scene Last Month

Big Changes Defined Houston’s Food Scene Last Month

Full Article:

Relocations, name changes and chef shifts mean more new ways to eat.

By Jakeisha Wilmore  6/15/2017 at 8:00am


Kitchen Overhauls

After eight years heading the kitchen of Brennan’s of Houston, chef Danny Trace takes on a new role as executive chef for Jim Crane’s downtown dual Italian restaurants —casual trattoria Osso & Kristalla and high-end Potente at 500 Crawford Street.