In her review this week, Chronicle critic Alison Cook awards an enthusiastic one star to casual, counter-service Italian restaurant Paulie's. On the plus side, there's "a costly Arcobaleno pasta extruder that allows him to make all his noodles in house and to match ingredient combinations to shapes" and "an all-Italian wine program and installed coolers that keep the by-the-glass wines at proper cellar temperatures." On the downside, "grilled scampi-style shrimp ... were a touch mealy, as if they had been hauled off the grill a little too late." In conclusion, Paulie's "is pretty much my ideal of what a user-friendly neighborhood restaurant should be." [Houston Chronicle]
Press critic Katharine Shilcutt finds a lot to like about Fat Bao, the fusion-Chinese bun shop on Kirby, despite prices that are higher than they would be on Bellaire. "The pork belly bao — the most basic of the bao on the menu and the most strongly reminiscent of classic gua bao — contains far too much hoisin sauce, which makes the sandwich too sweet and causes the bun to tear apart like a wet paper towel. And this latter issue crops up far too often on the overdressed bao. Far superior are the ones that balance the ingredients more carefully, such as the fried fish with its graceful topping of apples and its barely-there spread of spicy mayo, or the fried sticks of tofu with pickled cucumbers and more of that tangy mayonnaise."
The Blogs: Houstonia food editor Robb Walsh finds that adding salsa to the chicken sopas at Pepper's Burgers and Tacos makes them delicious. Hank on Food, CultureMap's Whitney Radley and 29-95's Syd Kearney all try lunch at Saint Arnold. Catherine Martin soaks up the atmosphere at Mandola's Deli.