The lines were epic in front of Grazia’s Italian Kitchen’s booth at Sunday night’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition. For good reason. The restaurant, which has locations in Katy, Clear Lake and Pearland teamed up with The Caboose BBQ in Alvin to create smoked wagyu over corn pudding with date gastrique, cabernet reduction, a tallow-fried crumble and micro greens. That dish took the People’s Choice Award at the dine-around, the official kickoff gala to the 2020 rodeo, held Sunday night at NRG Center.
It was a delicious triumph for Grazia and The Caboose: Last year Grazia took the People’s Choice Award (considered the top award at Best Bites), again with a primo cut of beef: wagyu ribeye burnt ends over cheddar stone-ground grits. Coming in second place for Best Bites was Cotton Culinary The Art of Catering with duck carnitas.
Winning Best Bites is no small undertaking. A total of 113 of the area’s best restaurants, caterers and food purveyors competed in a variety of categories evaluated both by a panel of celebrity judges and the more than 5,000 people attending. Rodeo Uncorked! is one of the rodeo’s premier events where more than 450 wines from the 2020 International Wine Competition were poured.
The wine- and food-fueled event inaugurates a new rodeo season, which continues later this week with the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest Feb, 27-29 and the rodeo itself that runs March 3-22.
Here are the winners of the 2020 Best Bites competition:
People’s Choice Award
1st place: Grazia Italian Kitchen & The Caboose
2nd place: Cotton Culinary The Art of Catering
Lone Star Entrée Award
1st place: Nobu: Black cod miso on lettuce cup
2nd place: Phat Eatery: Beef Rendang
3rd place: Pinstripe’s: Short ribs with parmesan polenta and peppercorn cream
Trailblazer Appetizer Award
1st place: Brennan’s of Houston: Hot oysters with Crystal hot sauce butter, pepper jelly glaze and pickled okra chow chow.
2nd place: Smokey Cheeks: Cheek taco with cole slaw and blueberry ghost pepper hollandaise sauce
3rd place: The Capital Grill: Porcini-rubbed smoked bacon with sweet corn risotto
Two-Steppin’ Dessert Award
1st place: Ooh La La Sweets: Praline bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce
2nd place: Grimaldi’s Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria: mini cannoli
3rd place: Joyce’s Seafood & Steaks: White chocolate bread pudding
Trail Boss Food Truck Award
Eaker Barbecue: Smoked pulled pork on creamed corn
Killen’s in the Heights: Smoked brisket enchilada
Tasty Tradition Award
1st place: Maggiano’s Little Italy: Lasagna with marinara sauce
2nd place: Revival Market: Miso mushrooms toast with whipped Texas goat cheese and honey
Outstanding Showmanship Award
1st place: Brother’s Produce
2nd place: JW Marriott Downtown Houston