Not so brothy: The seafood cioppino at Quattro emphasizes fresh seafood and a little kick from a colorful sofrito.

If you haven’t been to Quattro at the Four Seasons Houston lately, you’re missing a quiet but nimble reworking of its menu. Rafael Gonzalez is the new executive chef at Quattro, moving to Houston this year from the Four Seasons’s resort in Anguilla, and his additions emphasize seasonality (some items on the menu will change every few months) and delightful twists on traditional continental-style fare.

Take the lobster salad, enjoyed at a recent dinner. Lobster tail, grapefruit, prosciutto, artichoke, and artichoke puree were arranged to resemble a fish. It was the kind of artful plating I would expect at a Four Seasons restaurant, but the flavors harmonized in an unexpected way. The dish was bright, light, and thrilling.

A bit heavier was the house-made ravioli bathing in cheese and lemon, and filled with ricotta, parmesan, and pecorino. The dough, however, was paper-thin. Together with the lobster tail, it would’ve made a perfect meal, full stop.

Gonzalez’s signature dish, however, is the seafood cioppino, but with a fresher take. The melange of Gulf snapper, calamari, and shrimp was punctuated by a peppery, earthy sofrito sauce (and not a thinner wine sauce) that brought heat, acidity, and an undeniable freshness. I love wine and shellfish together, but I didn't miss that here. Plus, probably thanks to the sofrito, the dish felt quintessentially Houstonian—not satisfied with being typical and not worried about altering expectation. Gonzalez seems to have made the right decision in coming to the Bayou City.

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