In Italy, a popular saying is, “Chi mangia bene, mangia italiano.” Loosely translated, it means “those who eat well, eat Italian.” At Zanti Cucina Italian, this philosophy is embodied through the food, atmosphere and attentive service.

The original restaurant, located at 10000 Research Forest Drive, Magnolia, opened in The Woodlands in 2019. The creators behind it are head chef and director of operations Stefano Ferrero and CEO Santiago Pelaez. The pair also opened a River Oaks-based location in November 2022, at 1958 W. Gray St., Ste. 101, Houston.

“My dream was always to have my own restaurant,” Pelaez said. “I met Stefano when we opened an Italian restaurant called Quattro inside a J.W. Marriott in Mexico City. We love working together and so when I moved here, I asked him if he wanted to come to the United States with me and create a new concept of Italian food at a restaurant.”

The concept behind Zanti is simple: fine dining-style Italian food but in an approachable way. Ferrero described the River Oaks location as more city-inspired while The Woodlands location is more traditional.

For Ferrero and Pelaez, choosing The Woodlands as their first location was easy. While there were many different types of cuisines in the area, the pair felt there wasn’t a traditional Italian restaurant yet.

“We always appreciated the realistic feedback [from The Woodlands’ customers,]” Ferrero said. “We have a really good relationship with the community. That helped us to grow a little bit faster and that’s why we already opened a second location.”

At Zanti, the feeling when you step inside the restaurant is just as important as the quality of the food. Creating a deliberate atmosphere is a priority for the restaurateurs, whether it’s a cozy feeling when you grab dinner or a familial feeling at its newly-introduced brunch.

The duo will soon debut their version of brunch to The Woodlands. They will be having their soft opening for the new menu May 19-21 for friends and family. After that, brunch will be served every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Although brunch is typically associated with Saturdays and Sundays, Pelaez wants Friday brunch to serve as an opportunity for co-workers to grab a bite together or stay-at-home parents to sit down after dropping off their kids.

The menu will include brunch staples with a twist, such as egg casserole with pomodora sauce; sunny side up eggs with Italian sausage; waffles with lemon and ricotta; and eggs benedict with braised beef. They’ll serve up classic brunch libations such as mimosas and Bloody Marys as well as Italian liqueur-based cocktails.

“You're gonna see plates that you want to see in a brunch in the United States but adding those Italian elements,” Pelaez. “I think we're creating these amazing plates. We've been trying them for the last three weeks and I'm starting to crave them now.”

To explore their menu further or schedule a reservation, please visit their website here.

The above story was produced by Community Impact's Storytelling Multi-Platform Journalist Sierra Rozen with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team. Our integrity promise to our readers is to clearly identify all CI Storytelling posts so they are separate from the content decided upon, researched and written by our journalism department.