Who is Luigi, and what’s he cooking in Houston? That was the question on everyone’s mind when one of Texas’ finest Italian chefs moved from Galveston to Houston.
Nobody has to wonder anymore! With his Tuscan-style Italian restaurant and a knock-your-Italian-socks-off menu, Luigi is here to share his food. Located in Houston’s River Oaks area, Luigi’s is a pasta- and garlic-lover’s dream. He has been a chef for over 30 years; 13 years at Damian’s in downtown Houston and 17 years as a chef/owner in Galveston. Now as the Chef/Owner of Luigi’s Cucina Italiana, he brings his passion for food back to Houston (located at 3030 Audley Street Houston, Texas 77098 GET MAP).
Luigi’s offers a menu of Northern Italian dishes, with pasta specialties such as homemade Ravioli, Tortellini ai Quattro Formaggi, and Tagliatelle served with homemade sausage. Signature dishes include Ossobuco slow-roasted in fresh herbs and a flavorful wine sauce; and Petto Di Anatra, a marinated grilled breast of duck topped with a raspberry reduction sauce. Each dish is prepared with the freshest ingredients available.
Growing up in a family of excellent cooks, Luigi Ferre feels the passion for Italian Cuisine. From an early age he learned to appreciate the importance of fresh ingredients. Luigi’s mother would prepare Sunday meals from scratch—preparations that began with a trip to the market to hand-select only the best ingredients. Luigi acknowledges his late father, his mother, and his twin sister Graciela as the prominent inspiration for his recipe repertoire, “I’m lucky to have grown up surrounded by family that appreciated fresh, flavorful food.”
Still today, these traditions continue to be passed down. Luigi’s Cucina Italiana is comprised mainly of Luigi’s family. On a daily basis, Martha Ferre, his wife, helps prepare the desserts. Giovanna Ferre, Luigi’s daughter, makes all the pastas from scratch and his eldest son, Eduardo Ferre, arrives early to make the bread before returning to the restaurant floor to ensure that customers receive only the best service.
In addition to the food he experienced growing up, Luigi also received some of his culinary training in Italy. “My mentor would send me to work in kitchens and restaurants in the Piedmont region of Italy. I got to experience firsthand the food, the wine, and the significance of an Italian meal. It’s more than just eating, it’s sharing a special moment with those that are close to you.”
Luigi is ensuring the menu at his eatery hits all the categories of an all encompassing Italian menu - fish, veal, chicken, duck and eventually rabbit and venison.
Although delicate capellini and spaghetti are considered prime pastas in certain weight conscious circles, Ferre confesses his heart is still with the heavier lasagna and cannelloni.
“I would rather make a trade off and substitute a lighter sauce like Pomodoro, which I make with fresh Roma tomatoes, basil, garlic and red onions.”
Other secrets from his pasta pot: Never skimp on the quality of ingredients. Cheap noodles will turn out mushy and gummy even If you prepare them correctly.
Always make your sauce first. That way, once the pasta is cooked and drained, it can be tossed with the sauce immediately.
Chef Ferre thinks his pastas are a hit because they’re made daily. Houstonians will be also attracted by some of his favorite recipes that gained him a following in Galveston –Risotto, Ossobucco, and of course, the homemade sausage.
“I never get to spend enough hours with my family,” he explains, “but for the time the guests are sitting around the chef’s table, they will dine on the foods I would make if I were at home. For that evening, they will be my famiglia.”