The team at Helen Greek Food & Wine hasn't had long to feel the disappointment of not progressing in the competition for this year's James Beard Foundation award for best new restaurant. Houstonians know we've got a winner in the fresh fare at the Hellenic Rice Village spot, anyway. And this summer, the Heights will likely be celebrating another victory for Helen co-owners, director of operations and partner Sharif Al-Amin and managing partner Tim Faiola, when they debut Arthur Avenue Italian American at 1111 Studewood Street. The space was previously home to another Italian restaurant, John M. Carrabba's Piatto Ristorante.
New Yorkers will immediately recognize the implications of the Arthur Avenue name. For those of us lucky enough to have grown up near the Bronx, the images of New York's Little Italy are busy with hanging salumi and the smell of pastries and freshly baked bread. William Wright, also chef at Helen, is hard at work perfecting the red sauce recipes that define northeastern Italian-American fare. Evan Turner, the spirit behind Helen, will serve as sommelier at Arthur Avenue, along with beverage consultant Lainey Collum.
And for those attracted to Helen just for its bright, light-capturing brick-walled space, Arthur Avenue's design by Erin Hicks is sure to fill the 3,300 square foot restaurant with plenty to capture the eye. It's still too early to report much else, including a specific opening date, but Houstonia will follow up as soon as we hear more tasty details.