Photo: Courtesy Of Integrate Agency/Generation Park
Award-winning Chef Justin Turner has found a place to expand his interests and specialties with a new restaurant at Redemption Square in Generation Park near Summerwood.
A champion on Food Network’s “Chopped” and creator of Bernie’s Burger Bus, Turner is exuberant to host a grand opening this month for Bocca Italian Kitchen and Lupo Pizzeria, which took the spots once occupied by Wholesome Kitchen and Wholesome Pies. Their soft opening began Dec. 18, but the official grand opening of the new restaurant will be at 11:00 a.m. on Jan. 15.
Turner said this is not a burger guy merely attempting Italian food — this is a chef expanding his talents into a new realm he is more than prepared to exhibit.
“This is an opportunity to grow a beautiful ecosystem of hospitality,” Turner said. “This was not any kind of response into a COVID world. This is a guy whose had the forethought to know that what he’s building over the next decade or longer is going to need that touch of local hospitality.”
On the Bocca Italian Kitchen side of the two-unit restaurant, patrons can expect a classic Italian street fare focusing on using local ingredients.
Fresh pastas are sourced from BOH Pasta in Houston and breads are baked locally from Bread Man Baking Company, according to Turner. The new restaurant also focuses on varying specialties, such as the Italian-inspired brunch menu served every Saturday and Sunday with offerings like Italian baked eggs, a ham, egg and cheese sandwich, their version of an Italian-inspired french toast and six signature brunch cocktails. Wines are all imported from Italy and paired with plates served on a constantly changing menu.
Lupo Pizzeria is much more causal atmosphere by comparison, serving New York-style pizza by the slice or by the pie.
While there are differences between the two, both menus can be served on either side of the dual restaurant building. They have a full liquor license and run a happy hour every day on both sides from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close.
“We partnered up with a lot of great local Houstonians to kind of put this menu together,” Turner said. “I’m sticking in the same principles as I did and I have for my entire life, which is to make everything from scratch when possible, and if not, find the best.”
While COVID-19 has caused a series of issues within the restaurant and bar industry, Turner is confident in their ability to respond to the new normal that comes with the pandemic.
“The one thing about restaurants is we were already prepared for something like this because of our cleanliness standards that had to be there anyways, and so to add the things that we needed to make it even more safe and social distancing was a very easy transition,” Turner said. “And since I got to do that with Bernie’s previously it was very easy for us to implement all of those procedures into Bocca Italian Kitchen and Lupo Pizzeria.”
Bocca and Lupo’s hours of operation are Wednesday – Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday will also feature inventive brunch menu offerings and cocktails served 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
For more information about Generation Park, visit generationpark.com.