The Definitive Guide to Houston

Emmaline Brings Laidback Luxury to North Montrose

in Dining & Nightlife by

Imagine the ease and informality of a neighborhood bar. Now imagine refined fare like seared fresh scallops or escarole with soft poached eggs. Imagine those two worlds combining into one versatile space, where the division between casual and formal ceases to exist at all.

It’s the kind of space that would be the jewel of any neighborhood, and the kind of space that Houston, for all its culinary excellence, had been missing. Until Emmaline came along.

The Garden Room at Emmaline. Photo by Julie Soefer.

A new concept from owner Sam Governale, Emmaline is designed to appeal equally to visitors seeking a memorable dinner before a night at the theater and locals out for a casual walk through the park. That means a well-rounded menu, flexible hours, and a variety of settings to suit a guest’s mood. Emmaline boasts a laidback bar seating, a semi-private garden room filled with hanging plants, dog-friendly wraparound patios, and a breathtaking upstairs loft — in addition to an elegant main dining room featuring floor-to-ceiling windows. Thoughtful design elements like green marble tabletops, wicker barstools, and antique lanterns lend Emmaline a warm, home-like atmosphere.

To Governale, Emmaline is the missing star in the Montrose constellation. “While there are so many great restaurants throughout Houston and in particular some excellent new additions in Montrose, this part of the city’s urban core has been missing a signature venue that addresses a more encompassing set of neighborhood needs,” he explains. “In Italy, the classic trattoria is the epitome of a neighborhood kitchen, literally serving as the cultural thread for the people in that township. This is my vision for Emmaline—a commitment to our neighbors to be, very simply, a place where we will genuinely care for the well-being of our guests.”

(Left) Sam Governale, (Right) Emmaline’s Mascarpone Pancake Stack. Photos by Julie Soefer.

Under the guidance of executive chef Dimitri Voutsinas, fresh from successful stints at La Gamelle and Motorino in New York City, Emmaline’s versatile menu blends American cuisine with European refinement and a Mediterranean twist. The menu is designed around the idea of day-to-night offerings; standouts range from the Mascarpone Pancake Stack, with berry and quince compote and smoked syrup, to the Wood-Fired Cioppino Bianco, bursting with prawns, mussels, and clams.

This is my vision for Emmaline: A commitment to our neighbors to be, very simply, a place where we will genuinely care for the well-being of our guests.
—Sam Governale

Local pastry chef Alyssa Dole, whose résumé includes time spent at Houston-favorite Colitvare, appeals to guests’ sweeter sides with dishes like her Florentine Street Schiacciata with black grapes and mascarpone icing and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with blood orange and olive oil.

Lindsay Huntsman was recruited from Backstreet Cafe to head the wine program; she’s used her expertise to fill Emmaline’s 1500-bottle glass-front, climate-controlled wine room. Meanwhile, beverage director Sean Beck has curated a list of a dozen local and imported craft beers, a variety of small-batch spirits, and a rotating list of craft cocktails that changes with the season.

Emmaline is a place to gather with friends and family to enjoy great food while celebrating important moments or simply catching up. It’s a place to enliven your tastebuds, or a place to relax with a drink. Above all, it’s simply the place to be.

3210 W Dallas St  |  (713) 523-3210  |

Featured photo of Emmaline by Julie Soefer.

Noah is a Houston-based writer and photographer. You can find him exploring Houston's restaurant and museum scenes with his wife or catching a game at Minute Maid Park. He and his wife serve local businesses through their digital content company, Two Cats Communications.

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