D'Amico's Italian Market Cafe
For more than 20 years, D’Amico’s Italian Market Café in Rice Village has been known as Houston’s own Little Italy. While the always-bustling spot is well known as a full-service Italian restaurant, it still comes as a surprise to some to discover it’s also a fully-stocked Italian deli and market.
As diners indulge in both traditional and innovative Southern Italian dishes like handmade sandwiches, fire-roasted pizzas, house-made pasta and an array of seafood, other customers are shopping the shelves for imported olive oils, Italian peppers, fresh pastas, cheeses and more.
It’s hard to find a place that feels more Italian than this.
But while tradition is at the heart of what D’Amico’s offers Houston every day, that doesn’t mean one can’t expect surprising new dishes, drinks or other specials on almost every visit. In 2017, the restaurant added full beverage service, offering both classic and imaginative new cocktails. In 2018, construction began on a whole new dining area that will not only offer more seating, but also a space for private events.
Dining, shopping, family, friends and socializing. They all come together on a daily basis at D’Amico’s Italian Market Café. It doesn’t get much more Italian than that.
When Nash D’Amico walks through the popular D’Amico’s Italian Market Café, there’s a good chance any one of the guests he greets is a child or grandchild of people he served when starting his first restaurant.
A member of one of the city’s most successful restaurant families, Nash was on the forefront of introducing the area to the wider world of Italian cuisine. His first restaurant was in Huntsville, Texas, a place he and his cousins opened in 1975. He then came to Houston and then on and continuing today, restaurant guides and dining directories list a Nash D’Amico-owned property, be it D’Amico’s Ristorante Italiano, Nash D’Amico’s Pasta & Clam Bar or D’Amico’s Italian Market Cafe.
By 1996, however, the time and energy it was taking to run a chain of restaurants while staying active in raising a family and church and charitable events, made the successful restaurateur re-evaluate the course of his career. After long consideration, he made the decision to return to what he loved best - running a casual, family restaurant where he could greet customers by name and still have a life outside of the kitchen. Thus was born D’Amico’s Italian Market Café returning to the area where it all began in Rice Village.
Calling D’Amico’s Italian Market Café a family restaurant could be referring both to the generations of guests who dine there or to its owners, Brina D’Amico and her father, Nash.
Brina literally grew up in the restaurant business – photographs exist of her crib tucked in the office of one of her father’s restaurants. As she grew older, the D’Amico sense of independence set in, and she became determined to find a different career and set off to do so. Wanting to have a little extra spending money while in college, however, landed her working in a restaurant. The bug bit and she was back.
A graduate of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston, Brina began focusing on catering, but now she oversees D’Amico’s lucrative catering and special event activities as well as the many facets of overseeing the day-to-day duties at their restaurant.
She is following her father’s footsteps, not just in food service but in community volunteering and raising a family as well. She is an active mother of three who divides many busy hours between D’Amico’s, staying very active with her daughters’ school, including serving on the St. Anne School Foundation Board of Trustees, and being a hands-on volunteer for both the school and innumerable other organizations in the community.