KEMAH, Texas -- Italian food lovers will travel across the country for an opportunity to eat at Kemah's newest and finest Italian cuisine. Welcome to Claudio & Mattia's Trattoria Piano Bar.
The Story of Claudio Sereni is an American one with deep Italian roots, much like his partner Mattia D'Errico. Claudio hails from the enchanted city of Rome and has been in America since 1982.
Claudio began his music training at the ripe age of eight and he sang for the Sistine Chapel Choir in the Vatican City. A "happy birthday" picture from the Pope hangs on the walls in the restaurant as proof.
Sereni's voice can also be heard in films such as "Once Upon a Time in America," "Popeye," and "Romeo and Juliet," just to name a few. He has also been named the Best Entertainer in the area eight times.
His music is beloved by many throughout the world, but he now calls Clear Lake home. He first came to Clear Lake in 1989 when he was asked by NASA to perform for an Italian astronaut. When he drove around the area, he decided it was time to leave Houston and settle in Clear Lake. He's been here ever since.
His partner, D'Errico, is a home inspector. One day, the two received an investment to start their own restaurant business, and the rest, as they say, is history.
After Hurricane Ike pummeled the area in 2008, one of their restaurants was destroyed. It was at the request of their loyal customers, family and friends that the two decided it was time to open a new location in Kemah.
Diners at Claudio & Mattia's will have the opportunity to enjoy Sereni's music while they dine on the finest Italian food the area has to offer.
"I'm not a chef, but I cook well," Sereni said. Sereni wanted to place his new restaurant's food in the hands of the best chef possible, so he made phone calls to different Italian restaurants around Houston. His connections dated back to his first days working in restaurants when he came to Houston.
One day, Francesco Casetta called Sereni. Casetta, a native of Tuscany, had an impressive resume. He had cooked not only for celebrities such as Sting and Bruce Springsteen but he also was the Executive Chef at Tony's in Houston. Casetta met with Sereni, loved the idea of the restaurant, and was immediately on board. The two are now an unstoppable pair and to listen to them converse in Italian is truly a joy.
Casetta's full menu, which debuts April 24, features cuisine that won't be matched by other Italian eateries.
"There's no point to be another Italian restaurant - we want to be THE Italian restaurant," Casetta said.
While we were sitting down talking, he was tasting different dishes and directing his staff how to complete his ideas of culinary perfection. The menu features everything from fresh lobster bisque to penne vodka to lamb t-bone and much, much more.
There are many things about Casetta's food that make it stand out from the rest. He boasts the finest, freshest ingredients, beautiful presentation and large portions that will leave you satisfied, but not miserable. He said people often have a misconception about Italian food being just lasagna, meatballs and pasta, and he works hard every day to bring a special twist to all of his food, giving it authenticity and presentation that is unparalleled.
And for those who have room for dessert, all the desserts, except the cheesecake, are made in house. The baby grand piano tiramisu is a knock-out, featuring decadent tiramisu in a white chocolate piano with a side of mixed berries drizzled in a chocolate sauce. It's a dessert truly fit for a king.
When you walk into Claudio & Mattia's, you are instantly transported to a rustic Italian setting, complete with warm lighting, beautiful artwork along the walls, and a piano nestled in the back corner ready to entertain. The wine racks adorn the walls. Although you are in one of the finest dining establishments, you instantly feel like family when you are warmly welcomed by Sereni and his family of waitstaff.
Claudio & Mattia's opened last week and will introduce the full menu April 24. All are invited to share in a fine dining experience. Families are welcome, too, and whether you're looking for a quaint evening out with your significant other or a special location to celebrate, Claudio & Mattia's Trattoria Piano Bar will not disappoint.
And don't forget your dancing shoes - Sereni smiled and said the dance floor is filled every night and free dance lessons are offered on Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. There is also a patio for those interested to dine outside.
Reservations are recommended for those interested in dining at Claudio & Mattia's Trattoria Piano Bar, but they are not mandatory.
Claudio & Mattia's Trattoria Piano Bar is located at 3202 Marina Bay Drive, Suite M, in Kemah.
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