Each month, Community Impact Newspaper introduces readers to a new local restaurant or features a well-established restaurant in the area. Here are the highlights from the food industry in Cy-Fair this year:

Owner of Vero Italian Kitchen in Cypress builds roots in community
Ever since opening his restaurant in Cypress in January 2016, Jon Felicia has been looking to spread the word about Vero, which means “true” or “real” in Italian.

A Cy-Fair native, Felicia opened Vero Italian Kitchen across the street from Cypress Woods High School, where he graduated in 2009. After working his way up the ranks at the Conroe location of Vero, Felicia expressed interest to founder Les Lemmons in starting a Cypress franchise.

Sports bar owners bring Frio Hill Country Grill to Cypress
After years of owning and operating Lucky’s Pub, Travis Adair and Anthony Wegmann were ready for a new family-friendly venture.

After purchasing a 5-acre plot off Mueschke Road more than a year ago, the duo envisioned parents sharing craft cocktails around fire pits while children played on the lawn, friends enjoying Sunday brunch on the patio and private events in the wine room.

“It’s a complete 180 from Lucky’s Pub,” Wegmann said. “Maybe that’s because we have 10-year-olds now, and we have a little different mindset.”

Creative chefs at Murdoch’s Backyard Pub make masterpieces
When Sarah, Gwen and Rick Franke decided to open a restaurant in the Cypress/Tomball area last year, they agreed they wanted to give residents something they could not find anywhere else.

The trio opened Murdoch’s Backyard Pub on March 30 with the promise of bringing diners something that is “beyond normal.”

“We call it beyond normal because it’s stuff that people are familiar with but with our own spin added to it,” Sarah said.

Israeli burger restaurant focused on customization moves to Texas
The name of one of the Boardwalk at Towne Lake’s newest eateries, Burgerim, means “multiple burgers” in Hebrew. Fittingly, “always more than one” is the slogan at this company, which offers a menu of completely customizable mini burgers.

Burger options include the choice of 1o 2.8-ounce patties, three buns, five sauces and nine toppings in addition to the standard lettuce, tomato, onion and house sauce. Customers can purchase burgers in sets of two, three or a 16-count party pack.

“What’s different about us is that we provide the choice of meats,” Owner Guillermo “Willie” Linares said. “You can go with the traditional beef and chicken or if you want to explore beyond that, try the salmon or the lamb burger.”

Self-taught chef thrives in Cy-Fair at Sam’s Seafood and Steak
Running a restaurant that offers top-quality seafood and steak can be a demanding endeavor, but with hard work, dedication and a hardy time commitment, Sam and Linda Sok are making it work.

The husband and wife duo opened Sam’s Seafood and Steak on Grant Road in Cypress in March 2016.

“Hard work is the key to everything,” Linda said. “If you want everything to be as fresh as possible, you’re going to have to put the work in.”

The Cheese Bar gourmet shop boasts high-quality goods and service
Troy and Melissa Boyce founded The Cheese Bar in response to a question they both had after moving to Cypress from Pittsburgh in 2014.

“We just thought, ‘Where are all of the good cheese places?’” Melissa said.

Growing up in California near Napa Valley, Melissa would often make quick meals out of artisanal cheeses and meats, and she felt strongly about filling that void in Northwest Houston.

French Quarter Cajun Seafood serves Cy-Fair more than two decades
As one of the first Cajun restaurants in Cypress with more than two decades of experience, the team at French Quarter Cajun Seafood hopes it has become a permanent staple of the area.

Fred Foteh, co-owner of French Quarter alongside his wife, Janice, said the eatery is true to its goal of making authentic Cajun food that grows with the city.

“Janice’s dad’s side of the family is from the north side of Louisiana and her mom’s side is from the south side of Louisiana, like New Orleans and that area,” he said.

Victor’s on the Green offers Cy-Fair diners atmosphere with a view
Located in the backyard of Heron Lakes Golf Course, Victor’s on the Green provides a variety of diner-style dishes with a view of the outdoors.

A Cy-Fair native, the restaurant’s owner Mario Roberson said the fresh-cooked food, polite service and the chance to meet famous athletes who come to golf give Victor’s on the Green its own personality since spring 2016.

Family follows dreams of running its own restaurant at Kim's Pho and Grill
After 23 years in Houston, one family’s dream of running its own restaurant in the U.S. finally became a reality.

Aaron Duong and his wife, Tuyen Vu, opened Kim’s Pho and Grill on Louetta Road last July. Duong said his family ran a restaurant in its home country of Vietnam more than 30 years ago.

“Running a restaurant has been a family tradition for a very long time,” Duong said. “We’ve had some of these recipes for 50 years.”

Fusion restaurant, Atsumi Asian Kitchen, serves innovative sushi and poke
From fruity poke bowls to torch-blown wagyu beef, Atsumi Asian Kitchen and Sushi Bar in Cypress aims to take the next big step in modern Asian cuisine.

Atsumi, which opened in December, offers a variety of Asian dishes with a focus on innovation in recipe and atmosphere, owner Leo Xia said.

“You can say that we’re just being creative and fun here,” Xia said.

Banh Mi CT of Cy-Fair aims for authenticity in Vietnamese cuisine
After his work place moved from Katy to Cy-Fair in 2015, Vinh Tse said he noticed no authentic banh mi restaurants were quite to his liking. So, he decided to start his own business.

Specializing in the Vietnamese sandwich from which the restaurant gets its name, Banh Mi CT was initially launched in San Marcos in 2010 before the Houston location opened on Huffmeister Road in June.

Banh mi is made with French bread and topped with meat—typically pork, beef or chicken—jalapeno, carrots and Vietnamese mayonnaise. While banh mi is considered the specialty, the restaurant also offers egg rolls, boba tea and fried rice.

LT’s Sports Bar and Grill takes ‘bar food’ to the next level
Sports bars may not always stand out for their food menus, but LT’s Sports Bar and Grill in Cypress is trying to change that standard with distinct and creative dishes.

Named after owners and Cypress residents Lucy and Travis Lamberton, LT’s opened in May 2016 on Barker Cypress Road. Travis Lamberton said he wanted to open a place that combined the sports bar experience with good food.

The menu ranges from burgers and hot dogs to fresh caprese salads, French dip and blackened catfish. A rotating daily special allows diners to try off-menu items, such as pulled pork sandwiches, tostadas, and red beans and rice as well as rib-eye steak dinners every Tuesday on steak night.

Tutto Bene Italian Cuisine chef brings Italian flair to Cy-Fair
With a 14-year foundation studying under Tuscan chefs—making fresh pasta every morning and working at several restaurants in Milan, Italy—Tony Elsherif moved to the U.S. in 1980 to start working in New York City. Before long, he said he was named the best pasta chef in Manhattan.

During his time in New York City, he continued to hone his skills and ultimately owned three restaurants—two in Queens and one in Manhattan. By 1991, Elsherif was ready for a new challenge and moved to Houston. Since then, he has owned several restaurants around the city: Bolliciniella, Via Torino and Tonino’s.

In December 2016, Elsherif opened Tutto Bene Italian Cuisine on Mason Road near Hwy. 290. The restaurant’s name translates to “everything is good” in Italian, and Elsherif said quality is his primary focus.

Local family opens Ashay’s Pizza on West Road with focus on quality, charity
Inside the kitchen, the owners of Ashay’s Pizza in Cy-Fair want to create fresh pies with natural ingredients. Outside of it, they said they are looking to accomplish more with education and charity.

Ashay’s, which opened in late August, serves custom pizzas for delivery and takeout as well as salad, chicken wings, garlic bread and dessert. Each pizza is made with handmade dough, natural shredded cheese and basil grown by owner Krishna Patel’s family.

No stranger to the pizza business, Patel and his family owned a pizza place near Houston’s Galleria Mall prior to opening Ashay’s. Patel said he decided to close the old location to move back to Cy-Fair for his son Ashay Paik-Patel.

Family carries on founder’s legacy at Cy-Fair restaurant Balderas Tamale Factory
For many Mexican families, tamales are a popular finger food and a staple around the holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. For the Balderas family, they are a way of life.

Michael Balderas has been running Balderas Tamale Factory on Jones Road in Cy-Fair with his wife Juany and two daughters Alyssa and Arianna since 2011, but the restaurant’s history goes back much further than that.

The restaurant was founded by family patriarch Dan Balderas in 1998 in Round Rock before being relocated to the Houston area in the early 2000s. However, the family tradition of making and selling tamales to locals dates back even more, Juany said.