Grazia Italian Kitchen – Good Food and Giving Back to the Local Community

July 1st, 2018

Pearland Firefighters with Executive Chef Matthew Jackson, Clear Lake Grazia’s Andrew Howell, Adrian Hembree and Pearland Council Member Gary Moore. Photography by David DeHoyos.

The Hembree family: Ryan, Stephanie, Adrian and Gina.

By Xander Thomas

Grazia in Italian means “grace,” a name that restaurant owner Adrian Hembree is completely committed to living up to.

“We’re a community driven restaurant, which means that pretty much 110% of what we do goes back into the communities that we serve.”

Aside from offering great food, Grazia offers a lot back to the community; things such as holding benefits for local softball teams and the Lions Club.  Adrian says that between the Pearland and Clear Lake locations of the restaurant, they raised around $200,000 in 2017 to give back to the community.

They even set up a taco drive to benefit the victims of the recent Santa Fe High School shooting.  The idea for the taco drive actually came earlier, in 2016 when he wanted to do a benefit for the family of a Pearland officer who was killed by a drunk driver.

“The idea was simple, it was the catalyst to have something bigger,” Adrian said about the event, adding that between their $5 tacos, a local woman selling shirts and other donations, they raised around $40,000.

Adrian’s restaurant does more than serve the community; they also serve unique dishes that he likes to call “Gulf Coast Italian” because of the way he married the flavors from the local area and classic Italian dishes. “It’s a little flavor of home, with a lot of flavor of Italy.”

The menu features items like Cajun dusted scallops, redfish with a crawfish cream and lasagna wrapped into egg rolls. The important question is, what does Adrian recommend?

“I have a fail-safe dish called tortelacci, and it’s pasta stuffed with short rib meat.” He also says that their short ribs, which won three awards at the Rodeo Best Bites in 2016, are a must. “Usually if you’re lucky enough to come away with one belt buckle you did well, and that year we came away with three belt buckles.”

But the Mike & Jen, so named for his brother and sister-in-law because Mike is the person who came up with the idea for this dish, and while Adrian thought it wouldn’t work, it is now a best seller on the menu! Just don’t let Mike know, Adrian still tells him it doesn’t do very well. To give himself a little credit for his own menu, he says you can’t miss out on the Adrian’s Art Pizza, which is a pizza topped with all of his favorite toppings – including wagyu meatballs and house-made Italian sausage.

Adrian himself has never been to culinary school, but he has worked his way up through multiple Italian restaurants.  He gained a love of cooking from a home economics class in high school, where he first learned to make pizza, a recipe his parents still use!

He learned to cook partially from two Italian men he met at his first job, an Italian restaurant, in college, and partially through product development training through previous jobs. He calls himself “a product of the street” in the kitchen.

When people come to his restaurant, he wants them to feel comfortable and welcome. “What’s important when we meet a first time guest is that they feel like family.” He adamantly shares his appreciation for those who choose to dine at Grazia. He said he wants a visit to Grazia to feel like a visit to Grandma’s house, where you get a warm and caring feeling.

“When ya leave Grandma’s house you’re not just saying ‘bye grandma’ and jump in the car, it’s a hug, you know.”

Best of the Bay Winners

May 1st, 2018

The Best of the Bay Awards were announced at a highly attended and anticipated ceremony at Water’s Edge Venue on March 22. The 2017 winners, voted by you, are:

Best Asian Cuisine: Merlion
Best Auto Repair: Space Center Auto
Best Bank: Allegiance Bank
Best Bartender: Sarah – Volcano Room
Best BBQ: Dickinson BBQ
Best Breakfast: Pelican Grill
Best Brunch: Sundance Grill II
Best Burger: Tookie’s
Best Cajun: Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar
Best Car Dealer – domestic: Norman Frede Chevrolet
Best Car Dealer – foreign: Ron Carter Hyundai
Best Credit Union: JSC FCU
Best Café: Seabrook Classic Cafe
Best City to Live: League City
Best Contractor/Remodeler: Maverick Remodeling
Best Dentist: Tie – Dr. Farid Noie and Dr. J. Derek Tieken
Best Entertainment Spot – Jackie’s Brickhouse
Best Entertainment Venue: Kemah Boardwalk
Best Family Restaurant: T-Bone Tom’s
Best Gift Shop: Spruce Flowers and Home
Best Hair Salon: Brazil N Drops
Best Hair Stylist: Bonnie Wolcott – Heist
Best Hospital: Houston Methodist St. John
Best Italian: Grazia Italian Kitchen
Best Local Entertainer: Tie – Mickey Hobbs and Claudio Sereni
Best Luxury Car: Ron Carter Cadillac
Best Margarita: El Tiempo Cantina
Best Marina: South Shore Harbour
Best Mexican: El Tiempo Cantina
Best Oysters: Gilhooley’s
Best Pizza: Dan’s Pizza Co.
Best Pub: Scotty’s Pub
Best Realtor: Kimberly Harding
Best Resale Shop: Assistance League of the Bay Area
Most Romantic Restaurant: Opus Bistro
Best Seafood: Topwater Grill
Best Steak: T-Bone Tom’s
Best Sushi: Michiru Sushi
Best Web Design: Big Splash Web Design
Best Wine Bar: Chelsea Wine Bar
Best Women’s Apparel: The Clotheshorse
Best Women’s Boutique: Back Bay Boutique
Best Yacht Club: Lakewood Yacht Club

Business Buzz

July 1st, 2016

CPCO-4cPasadena Plastics earns top award
Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP’s (Chevron Phillips Chemical) Pasadena Plastics Complex received Texas Chemical Council’s “Best in Texas” award for its distinguished safety program during TCC’s annual awards banquet June 9.

“Best in Texas” is presented to the top facilities that meet the criteria for the TCC’s Distinguished Safety Service award program and maintain a contractor safety program. Last October, the site was named a Voluntary Protection Program Star Site for its exemplary health and safety programs by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Pasadena plant was also awarded the Excellence in Caring for Texas award while seven additional Chevron Phillips Chemical sites in Texas were recognized for safety excellence and community outreach, including those in Baytown and La Porte.

Scott Livingston

Scott Livingston

League City names new business czar
League City has selected Scott D. Livingston to serve as its new director of economic development.

In this position, Livingston is responsible for helping the city achieve economic diversification by strategically implementing its economic development plan, including attracting new businesses, business retention and expansion, and downtown revitalization efforts.  All of these initiatives were identified as a priority for League City in the city’s “Roadmap to the Future.”

Livingston has been responsible for attracting more than $4.3 billion in new investment, 30 industrial and non-industrial projects and 600 new jobs in his current position as the economic development coordinator for the City of La Porte.  He also facilitated the development of La Porte’s Town Center, a mixed-use development, which will be anchored by a Gilley’s Family Entertainment Center.

“Our city is continuously growing and as we work to address our No. 1 priority – economic development – having someone with Scott’s breadth of experience will greatly benefit our community,” City Manager Mark Rohr said.

Livingston has more than 16 years of experience in economic development, strategic planning, business development and main street revitalization between his positions with La Porte, Global Enterprise Services, and the DeSoto Economic Development Corp.  He graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and earned a Masters of Science in Economics with a concentration in Finance at Texas A&M University-Commerce.  He is also a Certified Economic Developer with extensive education, training and certifications in economic development, public management and international affairs.

The City of League City’s Roadmap to the Future was adopted in January 2015 with input from the residents, city council and staff.  Full details on the Roadmap to the Future are located at www.leaguecity.com/RoadmaptotheFuture

Barrios honors its employees
Barrios Technology honored a number of its employees at its recent Annual Awards Banquet at the Johnson Space Center Gilruth Center — recognizing recipients from the 2015 Barrios Employee Awards and Recognition (BEAR) program, as well as those receiving company service awards.

Throughout the year, Barrios selects employees quarterly for their outstanding contributions to the company and their jobs. These employees are presented with the Silver BEAR award. At the end of the year, from those recipients, a Gold BEAR award winner is selected.

The 2015 Gold BEAR award winner was Mark Schaefbauer. An engineer in the JSC soft goods laboratory, he was recognized with the Gold Bear award for his dedication and support in meeting a quick turn-around set of requirements to deliver critical thermal blanket hardware to the Lockheed Martin Cargo Mission Contract for the JAXA HTV-5 flight.
Recipient of the 2015 Emy Award, which recognizes an employee who contributed beyond the workplace in service to the community, was Denise Skyles, who was recognized for her continued years of service supporting the Barrios Employee Relations Committee, as well as a number of outside service activities.

Barrios also recognized 131 employees with service awards at the annual luncheon.

Boeing awards ISS contracts
Boeing has awarded $200 million in contracts to small businesses for work on the International Space Station. Boeing is NASA’s prime contractor for the ISS.

The contracts were awarded to provide expertise in a number of areas including engineering, information technology, software development and mission assurance support. Recipients include a number of companies, including Barrios Technology, Ltd., of Houston. Contracts run from October 2016 to September 2020.

During the first half of the government’s 2016 fiscal year, Boeing Space Exploration programs, which include the ISS, Commercial Crew and Space Launch System, purchased approximately $754 million in products and services from a network of 690 suppliers. Included in these purchases were contracts worth about $211 million awarded to small and diverse businesses.

“Supplier partners are critical to our growth and success,” said Mark Mulqueen, Boeing ISS program manager. “It’s important to Boeing and our NASA customer that we commit significant resources to growing our small business network through targeted outreach, mentoring programs and regular collaboration.”

This year Boeing is celebrating 100 years of pioneering aviation accomplishments.

graziaGrazia to open second location
Owner and operator Adrian Hembree is eager to strengthen the Grazia Italian Kitchen presence by opening a second location in the Bay Area this summer — at 1001 Pineloch Drive in Clear Lake.

Grazia Italian Kitchen in Pearland is known for its fresh house made pastas, wood fired pizza, and chef’s grilled selections characterized by premium ingredients and new concepts to traditional entrees.

With a dining capacity of 250+, this 6,000 square foot location will present a full service wood fired pizza bar, outside patio dining and a speakeasy era bar. Perfect for families, couples, and groups alike, the Clear Lake Grazia will feature the same delicious meals and friendly service that customers have come to expect.  It will serve lunch and dinner and expects an early summer opening.

Italian food for the Soul

June 7th, 2016

12705681_874022529384083_7517984285579487498_nGrazia Italian Kitchen to open 2nd Bay Area location

Owner and operator Adrian Hembree is eager to strengthen the Grazia Italian Kitchen presence by opening the second location in the Bay Area this summer.

Grazia Italian Kitchen in Pearland is known for its fresh house made pastas, wood fired pizza, and chef’s grilled selections characterized by premium ingredients and new concepts to traditional entrees.

The new restaurant will be located at 1001 Pineloch Drive in Clear Lake.

“We are blessed with the opportunity our second location will present and excited to give the community of Clear Lake the Grazia experience,” Hembree says.

f8bd144a036c76086cec84d8a7bd8a2bWith a dining capacity of 250+, this 6,000 square foot location will host an energetic atmosphere throughout. The restaurant will present a full service wood fired pizza bar, outside patio dining and a speakeasy era bar.

Perfect for families, couples, and groups alike, the Clear Lake Grazia will feature the same delicious meals and friendly service that customers have come to expect. The menu will feature cooked-to-order pastas, soups, salads, wood fired pizza and Executive Chef Steve Haug’s specialties and grilled selections.

After dinner, customers can either eat or drink their desserts with options from house made bread pudding to age crafted cocktails. The Clear Lake location will serve lunch and dinner and expects an early summer opening.

Adrian Hembree started his career in the food service industry as a dishwasher and worked himself up to the vice president of sales for an Italian food distributer. Hembree worked in developing and branding restaurants for the past ten years. While training for his first Ironman, Hembree and couple of friends decided to turn their dream into reality by opening up Grazia.

Hembree’s motto is Garzia = Grace. Grace is something we all need everyday in our lives.

Grazia Italian Kitchen is a Pearland based haven for fresh Italian fusion for your soul providing customers with a culinary experience for all occasions as well as transporting them back in time with The Noble Experiment. Grazia takes pride as the winners for the Lone Star Entrée Grand Champion, People’s Choice Reserve Grand Champion and Rookie Award at the 2016 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s, Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition. For additional information, see Grazia Italian Kitchen’s website www.graziaitaliankitchen.com and facebook page www.facebook.com/graziaitalian