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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Italian, Pizza
Casual restaurant

Tue–Fri 5:00pm–10:00pm
Sat noon–11:00pm
Sun noon–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


500 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX
(713) 520-8222

The Woodlands
1701 Lake Robbins Dr.
The Woodlands, TX
(281) 465-4420
Tue–Thu 11:30am–9:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:30am–10:00pm
Sun 11:30am–9:00pm
Dolce Vita
Authentic, affordable Italian that’s still some of the best

Sometimes the qualities that most attract you to lovers, or restaurants, are the same ones that irritate you. Maybe the service is spotty because they cram in so many tables. Maybe the kitchen is occasionally inconsistent because they’re operating on a cost base that allows them to keep nearly every item on the menu under $15. And it’s impossible not to forgive this place, with its principled devotion to preparing strictly authentic Italian dishes, serving them in a warm, bustling, effortlessly enjoyable two-story space with a patio.

As with any rocky relationship, drinks help. The wine list is exemplary; it’s all Italian, all small-production, and more about terroir than about emulating big California styles. For under $30, you can have an evocative, balanced wine.

So we return again and again, on one visit enduring a limp, blond crust; on another, finding ourselves blessed with a crisp, lightly charred version that’s rivaled only by that of Marco Wiles’s other Houston restaurant, Da Marco (it’s amazing with butternut squash and pancetta). We may be lucky enough to dine upon expertly fried rapini blanketed with snowflakes of grana padano, or we may suffer through leaden gnocchi that used to be pillowy soft. We’ll dip crunchy fennel into bagna cauda, that glorious ambrosia of garlic, anchovies, and oil, and relive our best memories of Dolce Vita in the truffled-egg toast. We’re done longing for it to change—we are wiser now, and simply accept it for what it is.

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