A rose is a rose is a – well, it’s a very special part of a romantic Valentine’s dinner, if you ask legendary chef Aldo el Sharif of Aldo’s Cucina Italiana. And since Chef Aldo cooks Italian food, he should know what’s romantic, shouldn’t he?

Each couple ordering his spectacular four-course menu on Valentine’s Day will receive a long-stemmed red rose for the lady. And if you think: surely the gentleman will have taken care of that detail already, then you haven’t been hosting couples on this special day for the past 40 or so years.

“This is just in case,” el Sharif offers with a grin. “Maybe he forgot, or maybe he had to stay at the office too late, or maybe something else. I just want every couple to know that the rose is already covered. And if that means she gets two roses, I don’t see anything wrong with that. You might say I’m here to facilitate.”

In addition to that rose, Aldo’s romantic menu starts with a handmade pasta combination of mezzaluna stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat then finished with a citrus cream sauce, tortolloni stuffed with goat cheese and mascarpone with a pesto sauce, and ravioli stuffed with osso buco contadina. There’s a lovely and creative salad after the pasta: roasted red and golden beets with baby arugula, candied pecans and seared goat cheese, with a light balsamic vinaigrette.

The evening’s main course offers a quartet of sensuous choices: grilled Chilean sea bass with lump crabmeat and shrimp in a saffron citrus sauce; beef filet and lobster tail with couscous and a cognac reduction; a voluptuous mixed grill of veal, lamb and beef filet with risotto Milanese; or grilled chicken paillard with sautéed spinach, mushrooms and green beans. The all-important Valentine’s dessert is a chocolate soufflé with fresh berries. For two. As it should be.

Aldo’s Cucina Italiana’s special Valentine’s menu is priced at $75 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are highly recommended at 936-447-9623. For more information about the restaurant and Chef Aldo, go to


With a nod to Italy’s most famous egg dish, the frittata, legendary chef Aldo el Sharif introduces his fresh spin on Sunday brunch Jan. 22 at his new restaurant in the Woodlands area, Aldo’s Cucina Italiana. The festive service from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. marks the eatery’s first expansion beyond its ambitious nightly dinner menu. 

Aldo’s brunch features the chef’s creative spins on many classics of the genre, including eggs Benedict and other dishes upgraded with crabcakes, salmon or filet mignon. Still, the heart of the brunch menu has to be Chef Aldo’s Festa di Frittata, with no fewer than seven variations on the baked omelet-style delicacy beloved in all regions of Italy. 

“Brunch is happy,” pronounces el Sharif, clearly aware that champagne cocktails such as bellinis and mimosas will play a role in guests’ brunch experience “It’s up, but it’s also a pleasant way to wind down after Saturday night. I want a brunch where people can sit, have a bite to eat, listen to piano and relax.” 

In lieu of the once-omnipresent hotel Sunday brunch harpist, Aldo’s version will feature the lively stylings of Lee Laforge, a combination of Broadway melodies and wonders from the Great American Songbook. A veteran of both Houston’s restaurants and musical theater productions, Laforge has become a popular part of the nightly Aldo’s Cucina Italiana experience. 

The Festa di Frittata features the traditional Italian baked egg dish with flavorful touches like shrimp Provencal, prosciutto di Parma, Italian sausage and meatball, grilled chicken and mushroom, even grilled skirt steak. In addition to the brunch menu, each dish served with fresh fruit, baked beans and O’Brien potatoes, a three-course meal chosen from the dinner menu is available for $30. 

Reservations for the new Sunday brunch at Aldo’s Cucina Italiana can be made by calling 936.447.9623. For more information, check out the restaurant’s website at


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