There actually was a Mancuso’s "table". It was part of the fabric of Italian American life here in Houston . In 1896, Cologero Mancuso arrived in Houston from Alia, Sicily with his young wife and firstborn child. He was one of many Italians who settled in the area clustering in families of which there were several. The Mancuso’s owned property in the area which is now known as Post Oak. Like most immigrants, they made their livelihood off the land. They were farmers and dairymen. In Mancuso’s case, he was both.
In those days, life was straightforward, simple and demanding, with the day starting with predawn milking of cows and making bread for breakfast. Then it was off to the fields. Each family member worked to the good of the whole - the family and their neighbors, the Italian community. The family grew and prospered. Mr. Mancuso and his 12 children produced fresh milk and milk products, ricotta, hand churned butter, a variety of farmer’s cheeses as well as breads, eggs and the vegetables of the season. On a day to day basis, they relied on the fruits of their own labor. They carved out a new life in this new land for their loved ones.
But this land was different. Many of the ingredients indigenous to Italian cooking were not available in America. Time honored recipes were adapted to accommodate the available harvest of the region. In order to get the variety and meet the needs of their respective larders, the practice of the day was to barter exchange or buy from one another at a weekly, neighborhood farmer’s market - Mancuso’s "table". Every Friday, the Mancusos, then one of the largest families, laid out their “table” with their wares for their neighbor’s to shop and purchase. Here their neighbors gathered, visited and contributed to the bounty with the fruits of their labor. And the harvest was magnificent! There heaped onto the large, old, wood-planked table in the kitchen was home made sausage, pasta, cured meats and the plenty of the land – tomatoes, eggplant, squash, zucchini, fava beans, cabbage, onions, etc.
Jerry “Cologero” Mancuso, his grandfather’s namesake, was just a boy and a student at St. Michael’s school when he helped his family milk the cows, prepare cheeses and pick tomatoes for the weekly presentation at the “table”. He remembers well and fondly the bounty, the variety and the camaraderie of the exchange. This atmosphere of sharing and supporting is as much an offering of the “table” as was the goods. Life, food, friends and family was simple and good! Herein lies the inspiration for Mancuso’s Italian Table.
Veteran restaurateur, Dody Martel, brings the knowledge and experience of many successes developing and owning over eleven restaurants. Ms. Martel is still actively involved in the operation of her two popular Louisiana restaurants one of which is 34 years old. She is looking forward to bringing some of the same experience and business practices to the “table” that made all of her other restaurants successful.
Founding Chef Greg Moore studied and served with award winning Executive Chef John Boehm for six years specializing in regional Italian cuisine. Chef Greg is excited at the opportunity to express his love of the food and traditions of Italy through this family friendly concept.
It is the shared vision and collaboration our executive team, the homespun recipes of Jerry’s Italian friends and family, Dody’s restaurant expertise, Chefs Frank and Greg’s culinary talents and knowledge of wine which brings you the old world atmosphere and authentic, fresh foods of today’s “Mancuso’s Italian Table”.
Welcome to our Table - Mangia!