More than 50 years ago, Alma Amadori discovered a case in her home in Ravenna, a province on the northeast coast of Italy on the Adriatic Sea. In this case Amadori found dozens of recipes, handwritten on onionskin paper. More than five decades and three generations later, those same recipes have helped make Via Emilia one of the most acclaimed restaurants in The Woodlands.
Amadori’s grandson, Carlos, is one of three owners of today’s Via Emilia, along with his son, Enrique, and his mother, Elda. The upscale Italian restaurant can trace its roots back to the early 20th century, to Emilia-Romagna, about 40 miles west of the Adriatic coast.
Via Emilia made its Houston-area debut 14 years ago at a location on FM 1960. However, Enrique said the center where the restaurant was located was bought out, and the family was forced to look elsewhere for a spot for their restaurant. Two years ago, Via Emilia opened its current location in The Woodlands.
“We found many of the customers we had at the old location have moved to The Woodlands,” Enrique said. “Many, many familiar faces come in here now.”
Via Emilia specializes in its handmade pastas and braised meats. The pasta is made each day by Elda, and many of the recipes are hers, Enrique said.
“She still cooks every day,” he said. “She’s here tasting sauces, tasting dressings, tasting everything to make sure everyone is following her recipes.”
Elda said she came from a large Italian family, who often had large gatherings that usually featured food.
“Some of her favorite dishes to make are braised meats,” Enrique said. “Very early on her mother and grandmother used to prepare and use special ingredients to make braised meats.”
Enrique said that what sets the restaurant apart from others in the community is its involvement of the family. His brother, Janiel, and mother, Lileika, also work in the Via Emilia kitchen.
“Everyday you will see my father, my grandmother or me here,” he said. “Part of the success of the restaurant comes not only from the family, but [also] the great team that is part of the family.”
- Vitello Osso Buco – Veal shank slowly braised in wine, served with linguine tossed with spinach, olive oil, and garlic ($31)
- Gnocchi di Patate – Homemade potato dumplings topped with traditional Northern Italian meat sauce and Parmesan cheese ($12)
- Ravioli di Aragosta – Handmade, half-moon shaped pockets of pasta filled with lobster, topped with tomato vodka cream sauce and shrimp ($26)
Via Emilia, 10700 Kuykendahl Road, The Woodlands, 281-465-9555, www.viaemiliarestaurant.com, Mon.—Sat.: 11 a.m.—10 p.m., Sun.: 11 a.m.—8 p.m.