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Food News: La Villa Saint-Tropez Changes Things Up

Plus, Ninfa's sets up its top brass before opening its BLVD Place location.

By Timothy Malcolm January 21, 2019

La Villa is hoping to spotlight ambitious but effective French cuisine.

Image: Becca Wright

Last week was a busy one in Houston food and drink news. Truth BBQ is now open at Washington and Heights, Indianola and Jonathan's The Rub now serve brunch, a bunch of restaurants are offering free meals to people affected by the federal government shutdown, and Cantina Barba's owners have a second concept open on Main Street.

But wait! There's more!

La Villa Saint-Tropez has undergone a bit of a rebranding. The white-splashed French restaurant in Montrose is now La Villa, has new menus, and has a new executive chef. Kévin D'Andréa—the Top Chef France runner-up in 2015 whose resume includes positions at the 3-Michelin Star Le Meurice, the five-star Hôtel Belle Rives in the French Riviera, and his own restaurant Mensae—is running the kitchen and presenting dishes like Burgundy black truffle risotto with arborio rice, escargot ravioli with celery purée and aioli emulsion, and spice-rubbed roasted duck breast with creamy polenta. Other changes at La Villa include the promotion of Cristina Lagman as general manager.

In case you forgot, the Original Ninfa's is expanding with The Original Ninfa's Uptown Houston, scheduled to open in May. The news is it's bringing in Jason Gould, who's spent time in Houston restaurants like the late Stella Sola and Cyclone Anaya's Mexican Kitchen, as executive chef of the concept. While he runs that kitchen, Alex Padilla—who has been running things at The Original Ninfa's on Navigation for 12 years—is becoming corporate executive chef at Legacy Restaurants, the hospitality group that oversees the Ninfa's brand and Antone's Famous Po'Boys.

Meanwhile, Adan Vasquez will be promoted to chef de cuisine at Navigation, meaning he'll be the lead day-to-day force at that kitchen. Gould will work with both chefs at Navigation until the new Ninfa's opens at BLVD Place.

That's not it for Ninfa's, which will be debuting the fast casual Mama Ninfa's Tacos y Tortas in 2019, starting with a spot at Understory, the food hall at Capitol Tower. More locations of Mama Ninfa's are anticipated over the next two years. 

The fifth location of Alicia's Mexican Grille will open in February in Sugar Land. The Tex-Mex restaurant, which is known for its Black Angus fajitas and pollo con rajas, will set up shop at 20420 Southeast Freeway in Richmond. The location will have a full bar and will keep up the tradition of quarterly tequila dinners. Other Alicia's locations are in Cypress, Katy, Spring, and Westchase.

Per CultureMap, Agricole Hospitality—owners of Coltivare, Revival Market, Eight Row Flint, Night Heron, Indianola, Vinny's, and Miss Carouselhas signed the lease for the former Blue Line Bike Lab space next to Coltivare. No word yet on what they want to do with the property, per a representative.

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