A brand new pizzeria called The Gypsy Poet will soon open its doors in Midtown.
Signage went up at the space at 2404 Austin Street in late 2018, per Swamplot, and recent filings with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission confirm that address. Construction is underway currently, and renderings posted to Houston design firm AmoArch’s Facebook page indicate that the space will offer a casual, modern-industrial vibe, complete with communal seating, couches, and a stair-styled stage that will presumably be used for live music.
Owner Vanessa Fernandez Favreau describes the restaurant as an “artisan pizzeria” that will offer a simple, short menu of Italian classics like burrata and focaccia alongside thin-crust, New York-style pizzas topped with a range of accoutrements. An open-fire pizza oven has been procured from New York, along with a gigantic stand mixer needed to make pounds and pounds of dough. A list of wines and beers will also be on offer.
More pizza is always a good thing, but The Gypsy Poet brings one other thing to the table: a pretty offensive name. “Gypsy” is widely-recognized racial slur that is offensively used to describe Romani people. “Some Roma people use the word themselves, but general usage is often scrutinized, in part because the word can have negative connotations, and in part because it has a problematic etymology,” explains a 2018 New York Times piece. “It is often used to suggest activity that is illicit, like a “gypsy cab,” which is generally unlicensed.”
The name has been so controversial, in fact, that some businesses that have used the “gypsy” moniker have since decided to change names. In 2018, a Dallas boutique formerly known as The Gypsy Wagon changed its name to Favor The Kind, “out of respect for the Roma people,” according to D Magazine. Still, restaurants using the slur are still relatively common across the country, including Galveston’s Gypsy Joynt.
Favreau says that she chose The Gypsy Poet for the restaurant’s name because it reflects the travel experiences of its owners. “[We have] lived for several years traveling around the world, collecting and living experiences and learning to see life from a unique perspective,” Favreau says. “Recognizing the beauty of each space and the diversity that surrounds us, The Gypsy Poet is the representation of all of that.”
Favreau tells Eater that The Gypsy Poet is currently set for a March debut. Stay tuned for more details.
Update, January 30: This post has been updated to reflect that The Gypsy Poet will serve Neapolitan style pizza, not New York style pizza. We regret the error.