PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston May 2021

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F ollowing in the tradition of Caffè delle Arti in Rome's National Gallery of Modern Art and Café Campana in Paris' Musée d'Orsay, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, ushers in a new era of museum dining with the first of two restaurants, Cafe Leonelli, an Italian eatery on the ground floor of the new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building — the casual cousin of the elegant Le Jardinier restaurant, opening in the museum in May/June. Michelin-starred chef Jonathan Benno of New York restaurant group The Bastion Collection is the toque behind the menu. His restaurant Benno in New York's Evelyn Hotel earned a Michelin star in 2019 after only one year in operation. The hotel is also home to his Leonelli Bakery, the inspiration for Cafe Leonelli. Leonelli's interiors and finishes are designed by Steven Harris and Lucien Rees- Roberts of Steven Harris Architects in New York, with an ethereal installation by light artist Spencer Finch, Moon Dust, (Apollo 17), 2009, commanding attention. Art power brokers can start the day at Cafe Leonelli well before the MFAH opens, as breakfast service begins at 8 am and continues until 11 am, when the menu segues into heartier fare. The traditional breakfast of egg dishes, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, and the like is accompanied by a selection of Italian breakfast pastries from Michelin-starred Bastion pastry chef Salvatore Martone: cornettos, which are similar to croissants, and the decadent bomboloni, Italian doughnuts with custardy fillings. Perhaps unexpected because of the "cafe" moniker, food is presented buffet-style in beautiful cast-iron pots on induction burners. Those pots brim with comforting Italian dishes: chicken cacciatore, polenta, meatballs, and eggplant Parmigiana. Leonelli Bakery in NYC is known for its large-format focaccia, and Benno features it on the Houston menus. Nabbing a segment of the 2,500-square-foot space is Frohzen, the ice cream venture. Cafe Leonelli, Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. THE NEW CAFE LEONELLI IN THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON'S NANCY AND RICH KINDER BUILDING. BY SHELBY HODGE. PHOTOGRAPH EMILY CHAN. MUSEUM CAFE THE ART OF A The new Cafe Leonelli at MFAH 100

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