Radunare dishes up authentic Italian food, unique entertainment for a cause
THE WOODLANDS, TX -- A spaghetti dinner benefiting The Montgomery County Food Bank...now that’s amore.
Radunare opened its doors to the public for the first time the evening of July 17 with a celebrity spaghetti dinner. The event was hosted by the restaurant’s founder, Dr. Frank Morello. Morello opened the family-style Italian restaurant in the heart of The Woodlands with the intention of bringing his family’s Sicilian favorites to tables in Texas. “Radunare” means “to gather or rally,” but on July 17, with Woodlands celebrities “waiting” tables with flair, it meant excitement mixed with delicious food.
J.J. Hollie, President & CEO of The Woodlands Chamber, Nick Wolda, President of Visit The Woodlands, and Allison Hulett, President & CEO of the Montgomery County Food Bank, were among some of the local celebrities who mingled with over 130 diners and participated in silly antics to encourage “tips.” Hollie sported a giant pizza hat. There were feather boas, pink cowgirl hats and hilarious costumes, but Monette Smith, CEO and Publisher of PR Luxury Media, stole the show. She was dressed from head to toe as Cruella De Vil.
“I think my big takeaway is just the kind of community that we have. People are very generous...they’ll come out and have a great time for a great cause,” Hollie said.
The celebrity waiters and waitresses competed for tips throughout the evening. All tips raised benefitted the Montgomery County Food Bank. And each dollar stretched further than you may think.
“For every one dollar raised tonight, we are able to provide five meals,” Hulett said. “Tonight the event has exceeded expectations. It has been so fun because we have long-time relationships, long-time friends, our celebrity servers have been here, people that have supported the food bank for years, all out here rallying at the restaurant. It has just been fun for everybody.”
The hilarious and unique entertainment was paired with a delicious, authentic Italian meal. From the beginning course of salad, through the never-ending plates of spaghetti and meatballs, all the way to a delectable dessert, the meal never disappointed. Benjamin Hobgood, a patron of the event and from an Italian family, touted the authenticity of the recipes.
“It was food my grandmother used to make for Sunday dinners,” Hobgood said. “The sauce doesn’t overpower the meatballs; instead, there is power in the robust flavor. I felt like I was with my Italian family. And these very well may be the best meatballs in town.”
The restaurant has a little something for everyone. The bar is situated in the middle of the restaurant, segmenting four quadrants each with different decor and atmosphere. In one area you’ll find more rustic decor; in another area you’ll find couches for enjoying a drink from the bar or an espresso; in another area you’re surrounded by Morello’s family photos along stone walls; and then there’s a private room for dining. The outdoor patio boasts a firepit to keep you warm when the temperatures dip lower, but the walk to the restrooms - surprisingly - may be one of the coolest features of the restaurant. Along the walls in the hallway you’ll find pictures of Morello as a child, history of his family, and even more family photos. Every inch of this restaurant has Morello’s touches and family embedded into it.
“The Woodlands is now part of the Morello family,” Morello said. “The biggest, and probably the best, part of the night has been the celebrity waiters. We have people from The Woodlands, very, very known celebrities from The Woodlands, come out, serve food, be part of the family in The Woodlands and gain money for the Montgomery County Food Bank...to watch these people interact with the customers and really show that sense of community [has been fantastic].”
Morello’s hope is that his restaurant, so near to his heart and that exemplifies family, will be well-received by a close-knit community with a focus on family and friends. After the kick-off dinner to benefit a beloved local non-profit, he’s headed in the right direction.
Radunare is located at 2520 Research Forest Drive and will be open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Diners can choose from an expansive breakfast menu that transforms into an all-day menu with appetizers, sandwiches and Italian favorites for dinner and lunch.
For more information on how you can support the Montgomery County Food Bank, visit their website https://mcfoodbank.org/.