Experience GO TEXAN > Chefs Table > Chefs Table - West Texas
Chefs Table - West Texas

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Texas chefs and restaurateurs invite you to step up to the plate and help yourself to the best that Texas dining has to offer. Texas cuisine is as varied as its land and reflective of the diverse cultures that settled in the Lone Star State. The chefs featured here invite you into their world to experience what GO TEXAN means to them, and the difference that Texas tastes can make when you dine out with GO TEXAN.

 

Chef Giuliana Cristina Leardini, Trattoria Bella Sera, El Paso

Giuliana Cristina Leardini, chef at El Paso's Trattoria Bella Sera, hosts

diners and families looking for an international fare with the comforts of home.

 

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in cooking?
Chef Giuliana Cristina LeardiniI was inspired by my mother and aunt; they were always in the kitchen. The Sunday get-togethers were wonderful and unforgettable because of them and the food that was served. Those are vivid memories that stay with me and have made me who I am now. I like to do the same thing at the restaurant and not only provide good food, but also help make good memories for all of my guests.

How would you describe the Trattoria Bella Sera dining experience? What makes it a unique Italian restaurant?

We like for our guests to feel like they are in an Italian home being hosted by Italian friends. We want it to feel like a little escape not so far away from home.

What on your menu is Texas-grown or produced?
We use a variety of items from local GO TEXAN businesses like meat for our meat sauce, Bolognese that is used in our homemade lasagna, pork meat that we use to make sausage from scratch like my father use to do for almost 80 years, vegetables and our local wine from Zin Valle Winery.

What are you favorite Texas ingredients and why?
I like organic vegetables and Texas wine. No pesticides are used in the growing process of organic vegetables, so when I serve a salad I do not have to worry about chemical residue. I like Texas wine because so very few people know how good it is.

What is Trattoria Bella Sera's signature dish?
Our signature dish is the homemade lasagna, made from scratch with homemade pasta, filled with meat sauce, cheese and beshamella sauce. I also make homemade sausage like my father has made for 80 years.

How does your community and surroundings contribute to the feel and atmosphere of Trattoria Bella Sera?
My husband and I choose to have Trattoria Bella Sera in a more established community. We also have Fort Bliss very close, with thousands of soldiers and their families that come from all over the world. We have had the German forces that are trained at Fort Bliss for decades so we have an international community that is familiar with the Italian dining experience; something so many crave when so far from their country or state of origin. 

Chef Betty Zentner, Zentner's Daughter Steak House, San Angelo

 
Chef Betty Zentner

 

You were recently given the highest recognition members of the Texas Restaurant Association can achieve by earning a spot in the TRA Hall of Honor. What does this honor mean to you as a Texas restaurant owner and chef?
I am overwhelmed and humbled to receive such an honor and to be among the industry's leaders and visionaries. This rank is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It is a wonderful experience to be recognized by your peers. I have to add that I received this on behalf of my parents, who spent endless hours in a hot kitchen paving the road for my future.

 

Your father, John Zentner, owned a restaurant in Lowake, and the Zentner name has become a famous name in regards to quality steaks. How has being Zentner's daughter influenced your restaurant and the dishes you serve?

 

First, let me say it was a challenge at times to be the daughter of John Zentner. He was not always sure I could take over the family business. I worked hard to convince him that I could do this. My dad was from the old country with old country rules. He was my mentor, and I stayed by his side and listened to his every word. He knew just how to choose his words so they would have the desired effect. But he wasn't afraid to speak his mind either! Dad had strong opinions and freely shared them, but he knew how to be winsome. From this I found my desire to continue in his footsteps. My father always stressed that if you offer good food at a good price, you will keep your customers and your bank manager happy for a long time to come.

 

What on your menu is Texas-grown or produced?
One of our restaurant's favorite items is our onion rings. We buy large colossal onions from the Valley and a local farm in San Angelo. We also purchase tomatoes from a local farmer, Brotherton Produce. Whenever we can, we buy local. After touring Fall Creek Winery in Tow we decided that this wine was perfect for our steaks. I try to introduce Texas in our menu.

 

What are your favorite Texas ingredients and why? 
You have heard it a million times-- "It's what inside that counts." Our favorite Texas ingredient is the garlic we season our steaks with. The special garlic seasoning has been used for the past 62 years. My father started using it in Lowake in 1947, and we continue to use Decoty's garlic today, which is produced right here in San Angelo. Through the years we have perfected the flavor of the steak with just the right amount of seasoning.

 

What is Zentner's Daughter Steak House's signature dish?
I am not sure we have a single signature dish. All of our dishes are our own creations and encapsulate Zentner's Daughter's philosophy. From our Onion Ring Bales to the Chicken Fried Steaks to our Family Style Kansas City Steak or the one-of-a-kind Steak Tenders, we pride ourselves in serving the best cuts. 

 

Describe the atmosphere and ambiance of Zentner's Daughter Steak House.

 

Our clientele is from all walks of life. We have farmers, plumbers, bankers, ranchers, teachers, families, oil field workers, etc. After a fire destroyed the restaurant in 1997, we added more booths, lots of windows and light, cool colors. We now have a sophisticated, yet unpretentious dining experience in traditional surroundings. There's something special about seeing your business attract all walks of life.

 

How does the San Angelo community contribute to this feel?
We want our customers to feel warm and comfortable in here. This is the essence of a family business, and we feel so fortunate to have the local support and repeat customers who have kept us going through the 35 years that we have been at this location. It's really awesome the way the community has embraced us. 

 

For more information on Zentner's Daughter Steak House, go here.

 

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