Houston-based Berg Hospitality Group has opened the new location of B.B. Italia Bistro & Bar after closing the previous iteration in February 2021.
The restaurant, which offers classic, Italian-American food with a contemporary twist, opened for dinner service on Nov. 8 at 16250 City Walk in Sugar Land Town Square. Lunch and to-go service will launch Nov. 15. Next year, a weekend brunch menu and a weekday happy hour menu are expected to be added as well.
Marcelo Mintz, a culinary veteran with more than 20 years of experience, is the executive chef, and Brian Sutton, Berg Hospitality’s corporate chef, helped consult on and update the menu, which features over 60 items. Examples include several appetizers to share, including a hot antipasto tower and a large selection of cheeses and charcuterie; a selection of homemade soups and salads; pastas; pizzas; and Italian plates with chicken, veal, lamb, beef and fish. Italian-influenced hero and sub sandwiches will be available on the lunch menu in addition to the full dinner menu.
Stuart Roy, Berg Hospitality’s vice president of beverage operations, curated the wine list, which features Italian and Californian wines ranging from $40 to $550. Alba Huerta, a James Beard Award-winning mixologist, created B.B. Italia’s cocktails.
Benjamin Berg, founder and CEO of Berg Hospitality Group, tapped Sam Governale, an operating partner at Berg Hospitality, and local architect Isaac Preminger to help bring his ideas for the 6,770-square-foot interior to fruition. The dining room features 14-foot ceilings and a mix of table and banquette seating for 200, with an open kitchen on one side and a stone deck pizza oven and gelato bar on the other.
Design elements include raw, reclaimed brick; steel and glass windows; antiqued mirrors; polished brass accents; and an “old-school, Italian red checkerboard concrete floor, which purposefully feels like it has been lived on for years,” Governale said. Houston-based artist Jatziri Barron painted a mural inspired by Italian and French artist Leonetto Cappiello, and the decor includes “classically framed original vintage posters and black and white photos all celebrating the Italian-American lifestyle and heritage,” the company said.
Additionally, the bar area includes an 18-seat horseshoe-shaped bar, four high-top tables and a baby grand piano, where live music will be played from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The veranda pergola-covered patio seats 40.
“After being approached to open B.B. Italia in Sugar Land, we wanted to bring something entirely new to the area where guests feel like they have been transported to New York City,” Berg said. “Growing up in Manhattan, I ate at incredible Italian-American restaurants, which not only inspired several of the dishes on our menu but also the overall design of the space.”
B.B. Italia opened in the Energy Corridor in May 2019, replacing Carmelo’s Cucina Italiana, which Berg Hospitality acquired in December 2017, when it was still Carmelo’s Italian Restaurant. It served Italian classics like eggplant and chicken parmesan and homemade pasta.
The original 8,000-square-foot location closed in February 2021, while the Covid-19 pandemic was still surging. Benjamin Berg said at the time that B.B. Italia needed a smaller space because it was seeing fewer customers while most offices in the Energy Corridor were not at full capacity and companies were not planning private events.
At the time, Berg said he wanted to keep the restaurant in the area.
However, the Sugar Land Town Square location was announced in March 2022 amid the development’s push to attract new restaurant and retail tenants.
In October 2020, Houston-based Lionstone Investments and Rebees announced transformation plans for the 32-acre town center, which include new landscaping, branding and signage; re-faced tenant storefronts; event programming; new food and beverage, retail and entertainment merchants; and implementation of new technology.
The redesign is intended to cater to local entrepreneurs and original dining and retail concepts, the companies said in October 2020.
Since then, new Indian restaurant Mahesh’s Kitchen opened in Sugar Land Town Square in September 2021, and a new experiential concept called Department of Wonder opened last month.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of the transformation of Sugar Land Town Square, which is fast becoming a destination for eclectic dining offerings in the Houston area,” Berg said in a March 1 statement. “This bustling, mixed-use development is a great fit for us, offering great walkability, retail, entertainment, and events that add to the experience and ambiance our guests want before or after a meal.”
Elsewhere, Berg Hospitality has several other concepts, including some brand-new ones. Berg opened his first Houston restaurant, B&B Butchers & Restaurant on Washington Avenue, in 2015 and formed Berg Hospitality Group in 2018. The company’s current concepts also include B.B. Lemon on Washington Avenue, The Annie Café & Bar and Turner’s in Blvd Place near the Galleria, and B&B Butchers & Restaurant in Fort Worth.
More recently, Berg Hospitality opened NoPo Café, Market & Bar in June 2021 next door to the company’s corporate office in the North Post Oak area and opened Trattoria Sofia at 911 W. 11th St. in the Heights in late 2021. The company also plans to open an unnamed concept in The Docks at Timbergrove at 2505 W. 11th St. and announced in late 2021 that it will create two new restaurants in Autry Park, a 14-acre mixed-use development under construction along the Allen Parkway corridor. One concept, an American brasserie named Annabelle’s, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with views of Buffalo Bayou. Turner’s Cut, a luxury steakhouse concept, will offer rare cuts of meat from Japan, South America and North America.
In late October, Berg opened Emilia’s Havana, a 50-seat speakeasy-style bar, in a former storage closet in The Annie, CultureMap reported. Huerta also created the cocktails for that concept.
Earlier this year, Berg also opened The Ranch Saloon + Steakhouse at RodeoHouston. The 16,000-square-foot, climate-controlled tent space offered two sit-down dining experiences, one casual and one formal. It was the first concept of its kind at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
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