The restaurant features many Italian mainstays, such as spaghetti carbonara and mozzarella-stuffed ravioli, as well as a uniqueness spurred from its Houstonian roots.
“[The menu] is really focused on Gulf seafood and interpreting that through the lens of Italian cuisine,” owner David Cook said.
Cook has been with Prego since 2002, when he joined as a waiter for a summer job. In 2008, he became general manager, and took over as owner in 2020.
Over that time, Cook said he has been able to watch generations of customers come through the doors.
“You would see families coming together with young kids, and now those young kids are living here and have their businesses and come back with their kids,” Cook said. “This restaurant wouldn’t be here without this community.”
During the pandemic, Prego and several other restaurants in Rice Village took part in Fare for Care—a food drive donation partnering with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Herman Health Systems, Houston Methodist Hospital and St. Luke's Medical Center. Through that partnership, Prego delivered home-cooked meals to front-line workers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cook said.
“I was driving those myself in my truck,” he said. “It really felt like the right thing to do, and we stayed connected to the community that way.”
Before the pandemic, Prego hosted monthly wine dinners in which staff chose a wine and a special menu item matching the cuisine of the wine’s origin.
“I wanted to study language and culture, ... and wine and food was a lens to do that,” Cook said.
Those wine dinners made a return April 25, Cook said, a move that he said indicates the beginning of a return to normalcy for Prego.
“We’re really excited about the future, and we’re really working hard to keep these core dishes updated ... but also adapting and featuring new things, new ideas,” Cook said.
2520 Amherst St., Houston
Hours: noon-9 p.m. daily