Forget the personalized pan pizza; Mona throws you a personalized pasta party.

Image: Becca Wright

Before maybe last year, fast-casual Italian existed only as an oxymoron. But suddenly, whether it’s Barilla or Giada or Anthony Russo’s fast-moving international empire, restaurateurs and chefs are jumping at the opportunity to serve pasta in 10 minutes or less.

Add Sidney Degaine to the list. The man who, with wife Maria, ran Cafe Azur, then sold it in January, has launched Mona Fresh Italian Food at 19355 Katy Freeway, Suite 500. The soft opening was Saturday and a grand opening is planned for July 19, according to the restaurant.

In essence you can make your own meal at Mona, starting either with fettuccini, a sandwich, or salad. From there you can add locally sourced ingredients, sauces, proteins, and seasonings, plus cut microgreens. Wine and beer are sold, too.

Degaine is planning more than one Mona, so it's best you get in on the ground floor. Hours are Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Also:

  • Ono Poke is expanding. You’ll soon have the chance to snack on raw fish bowls in the Downtown tunnels, according to Eater Houston. The new location will be underground at 500 Dallas Street at One Allen Center, says the report. Of course, the original is going strong at 607 Richmond Ave. in Montrose.
  • The Cottonmouth Club is celebrating 713 Day (yes, it's Friday!) with the launch of its new cocktail menu, the bar says. The Downtown bar from Mike Raymond (Reserve 101) and longtime bartender Mike Neff has earned strong reviews since opening in April.
  • Are you a millennial? Are you a “young professional”? Are you seeking deals for the coolest restaurants in Houston? Well, there’s a club for you, and you have to apply. The club is called the Urbane Society, an age 21-34 community that offers “culinary and social experiences at discounted prices.” According to a press release, it promises access and deals for invitation-only parties, private dining opportunities, and pop-ups, plus perks at partner restaurants. Partners include B&B Butchers & Restaurant, Emmaline, The Grove, La Table, and Le Colonial. Offers are communicated through an app available at the Apple and Google Play stores.
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Mona Fresh Italian Food

$$ Italian 19355 Katy Freeway, Suite 2B

You can build your own fettuccini dish, sandwich, or salad at this Energy Corridor fast-casual concept from Sidney Degaine, previously of Cafe Azur.

Café Azur Closed

$$$ Continental, French, Mediterranean 4315 Montrose Blvd.

Modern Côte d'Azur cuisine from chef Sidney Degaine is worlds away from boeuf Bourguignon. Instead, start with a fishbowl filled with potato foam and a perfe...