Nov. 16, 2012
-- When Houstonian Cara Cox, an avid cook and pizza fan, couldn’t find pies that stood up to those she fell in love with in New York City – artisanal-style blistered Neapolitan pizzas, but with the crispy crust of New York-style pizzas – she set out to create a pizzeria in her hometown that would fill the bill. Together with Chef Ara Malekian, who worked closely with Wolfgang Puck in creating his legendary pizzas, Cox is creating Volare Original Pizzeria, located at 2017 S. Shepherd (at Welch). The full-service restaurant, which will feature pizzas, paninis, crostinis, local craft beer and a surprising list of boutique wines, is slated to open in early December 2012.
“The Volare vision is simple: create great artisan pizzas in flavor combinations that Houstonians will respond to,” says Cox, “ingredients like brussels sprouts with house-smoked pork belly, or local venison sausage with wild mushrooms. It’s like bringing New York to Houston, without losing that Houston flair.” In addition to the more ambitious creations, Cox plans to offer traditional favorites such as margherita. Seasonal selections will rotate throughout the year. Though Cox is obsessed with supporting local purveyors, the primary emphasis is on sourcing the very best ingredients, whether it’s San Marzano tomatoes or prosciutto di parma from Italy, or local cheeses from the Houston Dairymaids. Pies will be simple, using the best ingredients money can buy. The restaurant will make its own burrata, mozzarella and bread.
Pizza fans will be pleased to know that the ten or so pizzas on the menu will be baked in a Woodstone pizza oven at temperatures up to 950 degrees. In an oven this hot, pizzas will cook in as little as 90 seconds. The hand-shaped crust will be 12 inches in diameter. The tomato sauce will be fresh and simple. For those not pining for pies, Volare’s paninis, crostinis, meatballs, burrata, and seasonal salads will provide alternative options. Be sure to save room for dessert, as the restaurant will be offering pana cotta and gelato cookie sandwiches among their lineup of sweet treats.
On the beverage side, soda offerings will be made of pure cane sugar only. Italian sodas will be made in-house. Locally crafted beers will include selections from No Label Brewery in Katy, Southern Star Brewery in Conroe, and Real Brewery in Blanco, among others. Oenophiles may find the wine list created by Sommelier Antonio Gianola surprising, with as many as 20 labels by the glass.
The dining room will be “urban distressed, NYC-meets-Houston-
Texas,” according to Cox. The rustic venue will feature reclaimed wood, galvanized zinc, black iron and black and white commissioned photographs by Marshall Bishop that will mesh the skylines of New York City and Houston. The 1600-square-
foot restaurant will seat 36 indoors and 24 in the outdoor beer garden, situated behind the restaurant. Eventually Cox plans to add a hydroponic garden with tomatoes, zucchini and herbs.
Volare will be a full-service pizzeria. Takeout is available and delivery will come later, but according to Cox the pies are best consumed straight from the oven. The restaurant will be open daily, with all day service from 11 am to 10 pm Sunday thru Wednesday and 10 am to 11 pm Thursday thru Saturday.
“I’ve always been passionate about cooking,” says Cox. “As a little girl, I was constantly learning from my grandmother, mother and friends. The best memories in life typically happen around the table. I want to help create that for my friends and family. I’ve been talking about pizza for years. Now I can travel down the street, rather than across the country, to get the pizza I crave.”
For more information visit www.volarepizzeria.com
or follow the restaurant on facebook at www.facebook.com/volarepizzeria