In a vacant purple building in Old Town Spring, former East Coast residents Joe and Maria Macri combined their years of restaurant experience and lifelong love of fine dining to launch the bistro of their dreams in August 2013.
In the past year, Joe, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and Maria have filtered through seven different seasonal and special menus at The Black Sheep Bistro to keep dishes fresh. The menu features high-end brunch, lunch and dinner items that range from salads and roasted chicken to filet mignon and pan-roasted wild king salmon.
"The only thing we don't make [from scratch] is the bread—we just don't have the facility for that," Joe said. "Everything else is butchered on-site, prepped on-site and everything is cooked to order. Our thought process is always the client and [his] experience."
Growing up in New York in an Italian family, Joe had his first taste of the food industry at age 14 while working at a pizzeria. Tapping into her Greek roots, Maria, a former hair salon owner, learned to cook by watching her father work as a chef in New Jersey for more than 40 years.
As the self-proclaimed "black sheep" member of their respective families, Joe and Maria visited a friend in Houston in January 2012, fell in love with the city and moved to the area 10 days later.
"When we came down that weekend, there were a lot of things that told us we have to move right now," Maria said. "There was no debating it—no matter what we were leaving. It was unbelievable, the pull we had to Houston."
Upon arrival, Joe landed a job as executive chef at the family-owned restaurant trio Nino's, Vincent's and Grappino di Nino in Houston. He later headed the kitchens of two other restaurants in the downtown area until the summer of 2013.
During that time, the couple, who describe themselves as kids at heart, moved to Spring and bought season passes to Wet 'n' Wild SplashTown.
"One day we're cruising around the lazy river, and I'm like, 'I don't want to drive downtown [to work],' and [Maria] said, 'Good, I have a great idea,'" Joe said. "We left [SplashTown] and we came down to [FM] 2920 and instead of taking a right turn at the light she said, 'Go left [into Old Town Spring to check out a possible restaurant site].'"
After establishing The Black Sheep Bistro in Old Town Spring, the restaurant quickly gained a loyal client base through word of mouth and online reviews, Joe said.
To better serve customers, the bistro will unveil a new 1,000-square-foot event and party center in early September for groups with reservations.
Although the bistro has won several dining honors and awards from companies such as Open Table, Joe and Maria remain humble and want to maintain the restaurant's cozy feel. Joe said the couple may launch different restaurant concepts in the area at a later date.
"As soon as I walked around [Old Town Spring], I was like, 'Oh my God, I have the art scene, the vintage scene, the biker scene, the jailhouse saloon and the Union Pacific train that blows by three times a day,'" Maria said. "This town owned me from the minute I walked into it, and I was like, 'I need to be here for the rest of my life.'"
- Roasted beets & asparagus: The dish is made with roasted beets, asparagus and field greens topped with Dijon dressing, pickled red onions, goat cheese, walnut pralines and bacon. ($12)
- Duck confit: The house prepared duck leg and thigh is served with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese and dried cherries over a balsamic glaze drizzle. ($14)
- Broiled oysters: Oysters are topped with sausage, garlic, parsley and olive oil. ($17)
- Miso-glazed Chilean Seabass: The dish is marinated in miso and sake and served with soy garlic spinach and toasted sesame. ($36)
- Black Sheep sliders: The sliders are prepared with ground lamb and filet mignon, roasted onions, tomato and bacon jam, challah buns and field greens. ($15)
The Black Sheep Bistro
326 Main St.Spring 832-616-3035 www.theblacksheepbistro.com Hours: Tue.–Sat. (lunch) 11 a.m.–3 p.m., (dinner) 5–9 p.m., Sun. (brunch) 11 a.m.–3 p.m., closed Mondays