1702 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056
January 2004–My quest of hunger lead me to this simple looking building off of South Post oak and San Felipe. I was not certain of what to expect, all I knew was that all my confidence to go inside was made entirely out of curiosity. Immediately I was surrounded by a warm sense of Italy. There were busy patches of people everywhere, constantly moving and adding vibrant life to the place. As I ventured in, I could see what makes this restaurant work. Eatzi’s is a combination of a restaurant, bakery, and market. It proved to be a perfect blend for superb dining. There was a more important distinguishing factor. No longer were you tied to one single-file line waiting for service. No, here you had multiple options at your disposal. You could jump in any line you wished based upon your choice of cuisine.
Of course no predetermined menu would do. Everyone here was freed from the tyrannical power of a set menu from which to choose from. Making a selection was as difficult as ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks for the first time, but even more rewarding. There was a possibility of over 18,000 combinations! I opted to go with a sandwich. Nothing too fancy yet, just the equivalent of a Café Mocha. Any kind of bread, any kind of meat, and any kind of spread. The possibilities were endless. Truly “your way,” the way you like it.
Eatzi’s was founded for a quite interesting reason. The restaurant and bakery was started by Phil Romanos (who also founded Fuddrucker’s & Macaroni Grill). Romanos wanted people to enjoy epicurean style food in the comfort of their own homes. Other establishments do not offer ready to take home food. Eatzi’s prepares fresh dishes every day ready to be taken home. They specialize in fine foods such as exquisite pastas, seafood, and the chef’s selection of meat.
As I waited in line, I watched (through the sneeze guard) the masters at work putting together made to order sandwiches with utmost precision. With coordinated hands, they made the creation of a sandwich look as if the sandwich was meant to be. I observed an older man in a blue suede jacket and thick glasses anticipating his order as he watched with large eyes that sparkled with delight. He smiled as he received his sandwich. I noticed that the man behind the counter looked like a seasoned veteran. He knew exactly how to make a mean sandwich. After he finished making my masterpiece of a sandwich, they accurately wrapped it in butcher paper with crisp folds and corners.
“Anything else?” they asked, as they handed the precious sandwich to me with a smile.
I smiled back and said “ No, that ought to do it” and added a thank you.
No great sandwich could go without an equally delicious drink, so the next choice to make would be which beverage to order. There was a plethora of drinks to choose from. Everything from all-natural fruit juice and rare vintage wines to ultra-caffeinated energy drinks. Of course they came in all shapes and sizes. The whole range of bottles mimicked every color found in a box of sixty four crayons. I could tell that they offered freshly brewed coffee by the distinct rich aroma in the air. I decided to be conservative and go with a cobalt blue bottle called Brawls Guarana (the ultra-caffeinated energy drink).
The center display of desserts caught my attention. I scanned the shelves containing rich Belgian milk chocolate and continued to the small individually wrapped pieces of authentic Italian candy. Along with the delicious sweets, they offer a wide variety of fine cheeses and water crackers. Truly the place for connoisseurs.
Feeling like I had accomplished some great feat, I victoriously strolled to the check-out counter with my sandwich and drink in hand. I stepped up to the counter and laid out my goods for the cashier to ring up. For a sandwich and a Brawls Guarana drink the total came to be eight dollars and thirty one cents. This may seem a little steep to the unaware, but is quite reasonable for the quality of the product purchased. I gladly paid the young lady since I thought I was getting the better end of the deal.
From this point, what makes this place so special is the setting in which you can enjoy your newly acquired sandwich. The Italian accented décor richly enhanced the whole experience. They use warm, soft colors in yellow, green, and red. This makes the whole place come together as if the restaurant was a masterful work of art. Beautifully sculpted flora continued the Romanesque theme. As beautiful and pleasant as the inside was, it was actually a nice cool day in Houston which is somewhat rare, so I decided to eat outside in the warm sunshine today. Eatzi’s generously provides many tables with umbrellas to dine under. The view offered was that of elegant buildings and blue sky. The scenery was complemented the sounds of classic Italian operas such as Pavaroti and Puccini. This completed the soothing atmosphere.
Now with the perfect environment, I could devour my perfect sandwich. I took time to savor every delectable bite. The cool, fresh wind blew across my skin. The sounds of the famous opera Caruso preformed by Luciano Pavaroti accompanied by the mellow drone of cars driving by calmed every nerve in my body. I closed my eyes and drifted away hanging on every note Pavaroti sang. A truly incredible feeling arose out of the exquisitely crafted composition. I sunk into another world full of serenity. My thoughts carried my attention to the busy street next to me. My eyes gazed through tinted sunglass lenses upon the monotonous ballet of cars motoring by.
I wondered how they could conduct their lives in such a stressful manner. Were they content driving steel coffins to and from work everyday? Were they forced to neglect simple joys of life such as Eatzi’s? They did not have the privilege of total relaxation that I enjoyed at the present moment. I wondered if I would become like them, no longer having time to pause a second and enjoy a fine sandwich. I hoped a life like that would never come to me. All thoughts of worry and stress vanished. My breathing slowed to a steady pace. Could all this be the work of an incredible sandwich and tranquil setting? I believe so.
All of a sudden a black and brown bird flew down in front of my table. It was one of those intelligent types. The bird knew there was food available to him and all he had to do was figure out how to obtain it. Being generous, I threw it a few pieces of lettuce and watched as he curiously looked at them. How simple life is for the bird. There wouldn’t be anything to stress about. Hang out around a restaurant watching people come and go. In some ways I envied the bird, but of course I wouldn’t want to hop around waiting for scraps. I found the bird to be quite entertaining.
I appreciate a place like Eatzi’s. It provides so much more than a sandwich to people just like me. Who ever you are, no matter your race, gender, religion, or creed you are welcomed here. If you prefer a sophisticated, refined, and stylish atmosphere in which to dine, you will find this establishment quite accommodating. There are not many places that pull off authentic class. Too many restaurants try to act classy, but true class comes from more than just a showy contemporary décor. Eatzi’s does not need to spend countless amounts of money on funny advertising to persuade people to choose them over competition. For me, there is no competition. All they had to do was provide a quality product, friendly service, and desirable atmosphere. A true gem like Eatzi’s is worth noting. I would only bring a friend that shared my feelings toward such a place. Any other who did not comprehend such sentiment would spoil the aura of Eatzi’s.
Even when I finished my sandwich I chose to wait a while before leaving because I felt so relaxed. I just sat there and daydreamed for a short period of time. My thoughts easily shifted from one subject to another. It’s not everyday I get to indulge in such peace, so I soaked it up as much as possible. Finally I had to go. I casually got up to leave. I walked to my car plotting my return to my favorite restaurant. I felt completely refreshed, recharged and ready to conquer anything. Maybe it was the extremely high levels of caffeine found in my energy drink kicking in or maybe it was the change of pace offered by Eatzi’s. As I pulled away from the parking lot, I watched as the Eatzi’s sign drifted out of the corner of my eye. I think next time I will order something a little more fancy such as the equivalent of a Grande Café Mocha with a double shot of hazelnut.
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