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astounds ostia corporate chef for Jonathan Waxman's restaurant empire (Barbuto, New York; Adele's, Nashville). McShane, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, made his way westward from Manhattan, only to arrive back in Texas in the midst of a pandemic. Despite the circumstances, he quickly got to work, rehabbing a space at the corner of Dunlavy and Indiana to create Ostia ("host" in Italian). For the design, he and San Francisco interior designer Jon de la Cruz were inspired in part by the industrial chic spots of the West Village and the cool, casual vibe of a California bistro — lofty exposed structural ceilings in black, hardwoods underfoot, terracotta brick-lined walls, and loads of lush green plants tucked in corners and dangling over your shoulder. The main interior dining room showcases a bustling open kitchen with seating nearby for cooking enthusiasts. For those dining at a distance, we adore the Greenhouse Room lit with copper gas lights; like a French orangery, it invites the outdoors in, with floor-to- ceiling glass walls that open to allow dining inside en plein air. The neighborhood spot serves New American fare with Italian flourishes. The menu plays off the season's bounty with rustic farm-to-table-inspired dishes. Drop by for a drink — I favor the 006 Aperol spritz ($13), although the wine list offers a blend of Old and New World selections — and a few apps at the bar. On my visit, I adored the crudo of red snapper dressed with olive oil and fresh citrus segments ($15) and the caponata on toasted ciabatta, adorned with paper-thin shavings of ricotta salata ($12). For dinner, move on to a delightful house- made pastas, such as the light and pillowy gnocchi, the exterior seared to form a crisp crust that contrasts the soft interior tossed together with wild mushrooms, fresh shucked corn, and parmesan cheese ($19) or a robust rigatoni in a rustic roasted tomato and onion sauce with guanciale (pork jowl) and salty pecorino cheese ($21). The comforting half roast chicken ($23) is cooked in a custom two-tier, gas- fired, stone-deck Nobile oven and grill, which also turns out pizzas at lunch. I really enjoyed Ostia family-style. You'll find this option at the bottom of the frequently changing menu: family-style tasting dinner, $60 per person. Arrive ravenous with four friends, and put yourself in the chef's capable hands. In no time, a parade of four starters, two pastas, three entrees, two sides, and two desserts descend tableside. Trust me, no one will walk away hungry. Ostia, 2032 Dunlavy St., 713.324.9288, I t 's a m u c h - a n t i c i p a t e d homecoming as chef Travis McShane, a Houston native and UT grad, settles behind the range at Ostia. This is his first foray as restaurant owner/chef after years climbing the culinary ladder, which culminated in the position of Grilled whole shrimp with harissa, aioli, and lime Travis McShane Chicken with salsa verde The Greenhouse Room at Ostia designed by Jon de la Cruz. Ostia BY LAURANN CLARIDGe. PHOTOGRAPHY JeN DUNCAN.

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