Ex-Chef Da Marco’s New Houston Restaurant Quietly Opens To Foodie Raves – No Ads, But Lots Of Buzz For Amore

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A Just seven weeks after opening Italian restaurant Amore in an unassuming building on Shepherd, a road that happens to be in the midst of a disruptive overhaul, chef Alfredo Mojica is winning rave reviews and quickly building a loyal Houston following. for its classic Italian cuisine.

On Wednesday evening, the 60-seat restaurant at 3310 S. Shepherd was packed with jovial diners enjoying some truly delicious plates from the highly titular chef’s cuisine.

No advertising. No media nights. No gifts for friends and family. Not even a sign out front. Simply, word of mouth about the remarkable menu and its skillful execution with familiar waiters is spreading quickly among Houston’s culinary gents. We anticipate that it won’t be long before reservations are required at Amore Italian Restaurant.

“I’m so happy and lucky to have people coming. I know a lot of people from all the restaurants and from Da Marco,” Mojica says. “Friends recommend it. It took me by surprise, didn’t it? I didn’t know this was going to happen.

The Amore Italian Restaurant at 3310 S. Shepherd emerged from a dilapidated building through a complete overhaul.

Fine diners will remember Mojica as the man at the helm of the kitchen at Da Marco, where he donned a toque for two decades. Prior to that, the Mexico native worked for seven years under Tony Vallone at Grotto on Woodway. He entered the restaurant world through the lowest rung of the ladder, as a 16-year-old dishwasher at the now long-defunct River Oaks Grill.

The relationships Mojica built with servers along the way made it easier for him to be hired for the new company. Diners will recognize the servers at Brasserie 19, Da Marco and a few other popular Houston restaurants. These are men Mojica has known and worked with for 25 years.

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Sitting at a mid-afternoon table in the cramped dining room that once housed a lobster roll joint and before that a pastry shop, Mojica takes a modest stance. He did not expect such rapid success when he left Da Marco two years ago.

Nor did he anticipate the long delay between leaving on his own and opening the door to his charming club which is formally dressed in white tablecloths and fresh flowers. Amore is Mojica’s own company. No investors other than himself, his wife Christina and his family.

Bad timing, they signed the contract on the dilapidated building two months before the COVID shutdown. Their plans were put on hold for six months and unbeknownst to them the resurfacing of Shepherd Drive, a major inconvenience for any other start-up restaurant, was about to begin.

The name Amore, love in Italian, tells Mojica PaperCity reflects love for his wife, for his family and for food. The chef’s beautiful wife, Christina, joins us for photos towards the end of the interview and adds that the couple are still working on several design elements for the restaurant.

Amore is a restaurant partnership. Christina selected the golden pizza oven which keeps the toast and pizzas coming.

The pizza oven in golden tiles of the Italian restaurant Amore, under the chef's hat Alfredo Mojica.
The pizza oven in golden tiles of the Italian restaurant Amore, under the chef’s hat Alfredo Mojica.

While we swooned over many of the menu items, our table of four was crazy about prosciutto with mozzarella and arugula salad, the eggplant parmesan, branzino and fried oysters, the latter to die for.

The chef’s penchant for truffles is evidenced by the seven truffle dishes on the menu. Six crudos, starters and assorted dishes, as well as 13 varieties of pizza complete the offer.

The prices are incredibly affordable at the moment as Mojica notes that these are “promotional” prices. Diners can expect slow increases in food and wine prices as the restaurant grows in popularity. Amore does not have a liquor license, which the owner will consider as an option later.

The Italian restaurant Amore is open from 11:00 to 22:00 from Tuesday to Sunday. Expect a special Valentine’s Day menu to appear on the website as soon as Amore opens on Monday, February 14.

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