Downtown restaurant is an inviting escape from daily hustle and bustle
Riondo’s Ristorante, occupying a busy corner of Galveston’s Historic Strand District, is housed behind the thick, stone arches of the 1895 Hutchings-Sealy Building. Crossing the threshold into the restaurant, the door seals behind you, locking out the noise, hustle and bustle of the street. The departure is utterly complete; if not for the front windows, you might forget where you escaped from entirely.
The long dining room glows from a constellation of Edison bulbs hung from above and quivering candlelight from atop the rows of tables below. Seating extends into the wine cellar, a former bank vault, which offers a more intimate dining experience. These are easily the best seats in the house. Calling ahead to secure a reservation in this coveted nook is highly advised.
The antipasti menu offers several classic Italian selections, including pairs of tender, hand-formed meatballs smothered in the house rosso sauce. The tray of crab-stuffed baby bella mushrooms are substantial and meaty, the spinach stuffing surprisingly light, the drizzled cream sauce exceptionally delicate. Assorted fresh baked breads accompanied by carafes of olive oil, bottles of aged balsamic vinegar and plates of Italian seasonings are presented tableside for an early snack.
In addition to the regular menu, the evening specials include a sumptuous osso buco plated alongside saffron-infused risotto and sauteed mushrooms. Leftover bread from the antipasti course should be reserved for the Italian tradition of fare la scarpetta, (do the little shoe), and used to mop up any remaining delicious bits from the plate. While the scarpetta is always welcome at home, it’s a somewhat questionable practice when dining in restaurants or in front of company you care to impress. Thanks to Riondo’s relaxed atmosphere, feel free to indulge in this habit without raising eyebrows.
Main course offerings are a kaleidoscope of fresh house-made pastas, fluffy potato gnocchi, poultry, beef and seafood dishes served with herb, cream and red sauces. Generous hand-tossed thin crust pizzas are gourmet canvasses exploring classic Italian flavor combinations. Both pizzas and pasta can be prepared gluten-free upon request.
Riondo’s warm atmosphere, attentive service and authentic Italian cuisine make it a destination worthy of a special occasion or a casual weekday lunch. Or simply slip in for happy hour and enjoy a cocktail or glass of vino from the full bar and wine list.
Stepping into the restaurant is a retreat from the commotion of everyday life; a delicious means of escape.
Riondo’s Ristorante Bar & Grille
2328 The Strand, Galveston