Raffa and his wife, Leslie, opened Raffa’s Waterfront Grill in 2007, after Raffa spent years working at various restaurants in the Houston area.
“I first worked in Galveston making pizzas, then I worked at two restaurants in Houston,” Raffa said. “I looked at The Woodlands to open a restaurant and finally picked a spot on Loop 494 in Kingwood for [Amedeo’s Italian Restaurant, which] opened in 1985.”
Amedeo’s specializes in made-from-scratch Italian cuisine and live jazz music. But Raffa’s Waterfront Grill, which opened in 2007, features 6,000 square feet of space and floor-to-ceiling windows that frame scenic views of the San Jacinto River. The growing success of Raffa’s ground to a halt Aug. 28, 2017, when 5 feet of water flooded the restaurant during Hurricane Harvey.
When the restaurant reopened in October 2018, it had a new look and menu. Raffa said he hired Executive Chef Martin Reczek, who had been at Amedeo’s, and infused a lot of Asian-inspired flavors and dishes into the menu. Dishes such as seared elk, beech mushrooms and branzino—a type of bass—punctuate the fresh take on Cajun-influenced dinner plates, Raffa said.
The now-larger wine room at Raffa’s also got a makeover and was fitted with a wall-mounted monitor for business presentations. The bar was also expanded to accommodate more seats.
Hard work and perseverance are keys to operating a business successfully, Raffa said.
“I’m really grateful to the people in the Lake Houston community for their strong support,” he said.
Raffa’s Waterfront Grill
1660 W. Lake Houston Parkway, Ste. 103, Kingwood
Hours: Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.