After a few years off of Houston’s culinary scene, Chef Lynette Hawkins is back with her Venetian tapas concept Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino. The fast-casual restaurant—which reflects Hawkins’ “eat little, well and often” commitment—is tucked inside the River Oaks space that most recently served as Pan y Aqua.
With the help of Kathy Heard, owner of OPEN Restaurant Design, Hawkins transformed the 59-year-old construction into a neutral space that’s central focus is the food. Now, turquoise and black graphics nod to the 1950s era, while an eye-catching three-dimensional wall graphic by Houston artist Rachel Hecker adds playfulness to the design.
Upon entering the revamped, cafeteria-style space, diners can grab trays and mix and match ready-to-eat hot or cold dishes like the swiss-chard-and-goat-cheese-stuffed tortelli pasta and calciofini (artichokes in white wine with herbs and onions). She also offers “slow food” items from the chalkboard menu on the wall like pollo giotto, pan-roasted chicken breast flavored with butter, garlic and herbs, as well as vegetable side dishes and pastas. Note: The restaurant also has an extensive selection of boutique wines by the glass and bottle.