Oysters from Star Fish.

In a stunning move shaking up the Houston culinary scene, Lyle Bento and J.D. Woodward have joined Sambrooks Management Company, adding heft to a group that recently acquired Star Fish, Pi Pizza, and Lee's Fried Chicken & Donuts.

Bento, whose Southern Goods never reopened following a late 2017 fire, went back to Underbelly Hospitality in July to serve as director of its catering program. His marks the second major departure at Underbelly in a month, as operations director Kevin Floyd's exit was announced last week.

According to a representative for Underbelly Hospitality, Bento had been discussing a change with owner Chris Shepherd for a while, preferring working the line over a catering situation. Underbelly recently hired Chris Bosch (formerly executive sous chef at International Smoke) to replace Bento.

For Michael Sambrooks (The Pit Room), it's a coup. Bento will serve as culinary director for Star Fish, Pi, and Lee's, and he, along with J.D. Woodward and Michael Nutt, will team up to revitalize the menu at Star Fish. A chef's tasting menu of six courses featuring their creations will be unveiled Tuesday and be offered through Thursday ($55 per person). 

Meanwhile, Woodward, who was executive chef at La Vista 101, will be the executive chef at Star Fish. Nutt (formerly at Laurenzo's) will be chef de cuisine.

Sambrooks purchased Star Fish, Pi, and Lee's in late August from Cherry Pie Hospitality, which is no longer an active entity.

Show Comments
In this Article

Laurenzo's Restaurant

$$ Steak 4412 Washington Ave.

This old-school throwback reminds one of simpler times, when families still got together over Sunday prime rib. Not coincidentally, Laurenzo’s offers one of ...

Editor’s Pick

La Vista 101

$$$ Italian 1805 W. 18th St.

From the mind that brought you La Vista, it's back to basics at La Vista 101, a bright Timbergrove/Lazybrook restaurant that emphasizes small plates like bee...

The Pit Room

$$ Barbecue 1201 Richmond Ave.

Remember when the rest of Texas said Houston wasn’t much of a barbecue powerhouse? Take remaining naysayers to the Pit Room and watch them change their tunes...

International Smoke

$$$$ Barbecue, Korean, Mexican/Tex-Mex, Steak, Vietnamese 800 Sorella Court, #940

The collaboration between James Beard Award-winner Michael Mina and lifestyle expert Ayesha Curry bridges diverse cultural flavors with grilling and smoking....

Lee's Fried Chicken and Donuts

$ American/New American, Bakeries, Dessert 601 Heights Blvd.

The fried bird made famous at Liberty Kitchen and BRC Gastropub finds a home of its own at this chicken counter. Save room for doughnuts, particularly the in...

Pi Pizza

$$ American/New American, Italian, Pizza 181 Heights Blvd.

The same creative pizzas that won Anthony Calleo's pizza truck a following are on the menu at his restaurant. But there's more than pies topped with combos l...

1751 Sea & Bar

$$$ American/New American, Seafood 191 Heights Blvd.

Related Content