Since 2006, the Herrera family has provided the Cypress area with excellent dining experiences in a variety of cuisines. It started with Alicia’s Mexican Grille, opened by owner, president and family patriarch, David Herrera, and named for his wife, Alicia. Next came Dario’s Steakhouse & Seafood. Named for youngest son Dario, to this day it’s one of the few fine dining establishments anywhere in Cypress or Northwest Houston. The Herrera family brings the same focus on quality and service with an Italian twist with Marvino’s Italian Steakhouse (named for eldest son Marvin) at 24002 Northwest Freeway.
Originally opened in 2015 with a focus on fine Italian fare — something that David Herrera had plenty of experience with after 15 years of working for legendary restaurateur Tony Vallone — in 2020, Marvino’s evolved, adding top-quality steaks, seafood and wine, and elevating the customer experience, too.
Despite the growth in the number of their locally owned restaurants, Herrera Group is still entirely operated by the family — and there are no plans to change that anytime soon. “We manage everything ourselves — me and my sons,” says David Herrera. “If we make any changes or adjust anything, we are the ones who make the decisions. We love what we do. I love to visit the tables and really talk and engage with the customers. We’ve been approached for franchises, but we want to control what we do so we can keep it right.”
“I’ve been working alongside my dad for about 20 years,” said Dario. “One main priority for us is consistency. We work together as a family and we think alike. We’ve been successful because we have our way of doing things and we don’t have to compromise on quality or answer to anyone else.”
Of course, the restaurant is known for steaks, and David Herrera says, “We use the very best meat we can find.” Marvino’s cuts its own steaks to specification and sources beef from higher-end distributors: certified Angus from Meat By Linz in Chicago and Akaushi from Glazier’s Food Company in Houston. Well-regarded supplier Ben E. Keith, also in Houston, supplies some of the meats as well. “No matter what, we never cut quality or quantity, and our customers stay very pleased,” David said. One particular standout is the 20-ounce bone-in ribeye — and all the steaks are served with roasted Parmesan potatoes, sautéed green beans and the customer’s choice of soup of the day and house or Caesar salad. Other sides include Corn Crème Brûlée, Roasted Brussels sprouts, macaroni and cheese (crabmeat and truffle oil addition available), grilled asparagus (add crabmeat and Hollandaise sauce for extra charge), and, of course, a classic loaded baked potato.
There are luxurious steak topping options, too. Get it Oscar-style — Hollandaise sauce loaded with your choice of lobster or crab — or simply add gorgonzola or a round of Parmesan-crusted goat cheese to lend salty, silky goodness to every beefy bite. Possibly the most interesting way to enjoy a steak from Marvino’s is Drunken Style, a topping of fried mozzarella and crabmeat that’s been marinated in amber beer.
“People in our area love red meat! That’s why we decided to add steaks and more seafood dishes,” Herrera said. “It’s 25 minutes from Cypress to downtown Houston. Having Marvino’s in Cypress means that people don’t have to drive into Houston to receive excellent restaurant quality and service.”
Marvino’s Italian Steakhouse makes all of its dishes from scratch. “We don’t buy anything that’s frozen,” says Ubaldo Herrera, David and Alicia’s middle son. Even the pastas are made in house. “Another place would probably get pre-made, frozen ravioli from a distributor, but instead, we have someone come in every day to make fresh pastas.” The Lobster Ravioli and luscious Short Rib Ravioli are two of David Herrera’s personal favorites, and the Four-Cheese Ravioli, stuffed with Parmigiano Reggiano, Manchego Fontina and ricotta cheeses, then tossed in Tito’s vodka sauce, is an all-around crowd pleaser. Marvino’s Italian Steakhouse also serves Linguine Pescatore with sautéed shrimp, Chilean blue mussels, calamari and crabmeat, all made savory and spicy with arrabiata herb sauce.
Thanks to the wood-fired oven, David also highly recommends the pizzas, which he calls “spectacular” and emerge hot, fresh and with tender-crisp crusts. A classic Margherita pizza with Roma tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and the house specialty combination of savory prosciutto, crisp bacon, fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella are just two fine examples.
Want a taste of everything? The Heart of Italy is a grand tour of flavors that goes beyond “surf and turf” with a five-ounce filet mignon topped with peppercorn sauce, Chicken Marvino crowned with jumbo shrimp and fedelini pasta with housemade marinara. Those who aren’t in the mood for a hefty steak or simply don’t eat red meat will be delighted to find a plethora of outstanding fish dishes, including Pepper-Crusted Tuna Steak, Pan-Seared Branzino and Gulf Red Snapper.
Of course, no steakhouse is complete without an extensive selection of wines. Marvino’s Italian Steakhouse specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon from California, including top-rated selections from Napa Valley. In addition, there’s a small but well-chosen selection of boutique selections available only “to the trade” as well as other wines from around the world. Bottle prices typically range from $35 to $240. Guests can also opt to start their Marvino’s experience with a classic cocktail, such as an Old Fashioned (get adventurous and try a variation made with tequila!), Manhattan, Martini or Bellini. Get an easy introduction to Marvino’s entire bar program during happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., with select wines by the glass or well cocktails for $6 and specials on domestic and imported beers.
While the Herrera Group has expanded its original restaurant Alicia’s Mexican Grille to Houston, Katy, Sugar Land and Spring, Cypress is where this family business started and still the greatest focus. “We love Cypress so much because it’s still an area not too congested or busy. It’s growing every day, but it’s still open and clean. On top of that, people in the area love to dine in, be taken care of and be treated like part of the family. That’s what we do with all of our customers. I tell my sons, ‘People in Cypress know who we are, so whatever we do, we have to do it right.”
“When a diner visits Marvino’s Italian Steakhouse, we want them to feel at home and like they’re part of the family,” said Dario. “We have a strong presence in Cypress because we’ve been part of the community for almost 16 years. We’ve had couples meet here, had kids, and we’ve seen their kids grow. When they come here, they feel like part of the family. They know who our managers are and they know who we are. When they leave, they’re not just some other customers or that all we care about is to get them in and get them out. They came here for a good time and we want to make sure they leave feeling like they did.”
While the pandemic brought extreme difficulties to the entire restaurant industry, the downtime proved a good opportunity to refocus the menu on fine Italian dining. “Every month, we see more traffic to the restaurant. We have four private dining rooms that we didn’t get to use last year due to the pandemic. With more people going out and being able to gather in 2021, we expect private dining will be a great service to Cypress this year for prom dinners, graduations, weddings, birthdays and more!” said David Herrera.
Marvino’s Italian Steakhouse is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Brunch is served on both Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.