Savino graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in 1994. Originally from Rochester, New York, Savino was drawn to Dallas in 1995 by a job with the Four Seasons Hotel. After working for the Four Seasons for 13 years, Savino decided it was time to do his own thing.
Savino took his talents to cookies for practical reasons, he said. With a distaste for decorating, cakes were off the table. Cookies worked well with Houston’s climate, since they do not need refrigeration and do not spoil. They are also easier to handle than some of their other pastry counterparts. Plus, everyone likes them, he said.
“I’ve never heard someone say, ‘I don’t like cookies,’” Savino said.
The main product at Michael’s Cookie Jar is the oven-fresh cookie, a soft-baked homestyle cookie sold in 12 flavors. These made-from-scratch cookies use real butter, freshly cracked eggs and natural flavors. Chocolate chip cookies sell the most, followed by M&M, snickerdoodle and toffee pecan cookies.
The West University shop, which opened in 2006, sells decorated cutout cookies, logo cookies and seasonal cookies. It also provides special orders, cookie buffets and party trays. Specialty cookies include French palmiers, Peruvian alfajores, Mexican wedding cookies and Italian fig cookies at Christmas, which Salvino said demonstrates the abilities of the shop’s pastry-school educated team.
“We make various ethnic cookies as traditional as we can as a little nod to let the world know we’re all really pastry chefs,” he said. “We all went to school for this, and we know how to do anything we want, but we chose to work with cookies.”
Savino’s choice to not rotate flavors is intentional. He likes how cookies represent stability, comfort and homeyness, so he wants customers to be able to come in and know their favorite cookie is waiting for them.
“We’re here to be very predictable, which I think is good in an uncertain world,” Savino said.
Savino said he concentrates the shop’s charitable efforts on helping children, including parent-teacher organizations, Kids’ Meals Houston and support for Houston’s transgender youth. The shop also serves as a book drop-off location for Books Between Kids, an organization that provides books to at-risk children.
“I love what I do; I love being part of the community; and we plan on being here forever,” Savino said. “West U has been great to us.”
Find the perfect flavor:
Chocolate chip pecan
Double chocolate chunk
White chocolate macadamia
Michael’s Cookie Jar
5330 Weslayan St., Houston
713-771-8603, ext. 0
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Sun.