On Mondays we showcase enterprising Houstonians who share their five favorite things to do in Houston. This week we hear from Paul Petronella, namesake and proprietor of Paulie’s on Westheimer and the founder of the recently opened wine bar Camerata at Paulie’s.
My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston
by Paul Petronella
- Holy Cross Cemetery – This may sound a bit morbid, but I have a lot of family in the Holy Cross Cemetery at Main and 45. On a nice day I like to visit old family gravesites and plant or bring flowers. I’ve actually planted a Meyer lemon tree in that cemetery. The cemetery consists mostly of Italians, so I have numerous extended family members in there as well.
- Meals in Chinatown – I’ve been asked about my favorite places numerous times and I always include eating in Chinatown. It’s always a little vacation, because I never feel like I’m still in Houston. I feel like a tourist where I don’t speak the language and can’t read the menus. It’s nice to be the tourist sometimes.
- Downtown Nightlife – For nightlife, I’m really enjoying the new additions to our revitalized downtown. I am proud to be a part of OKRA and opening the OKRA Charity Saloon, which has helped bring new life to downtown. Mayor Parker actually declared October 22 “OKRA Charity Saloon Day” this year. That was pretty surreal. I remember when downtown used to be a destination with bars and restaurants, my family had an Italian restaurant on Main close to 15 years ago. Now it seems a lot of my friends work downtown at either OKRA Bar, Bad News Bar, Goro & Gun, Pastry War and Little Dipper.
- The Pass & Provisions – I’m sure I should include my favorite restaurant on this list. This is no easy task. With our new generation pushing envelopes and not accepting mediocrity, Houston is really coming alive. I don’t see this wave ending anytime soon, only progressing further. We are too hungry. Having said that, I think Pass & Provisions is the most ambitious food undertaking, which continues to deliver. It really is two restaurants in one building, which I love as an operator. The food is always delicious, while still challenging your comfort level and giving you new experiences. I think what people need to understand is that the moment you are uncomfortable, is the moment you are learning something new.
- The Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center – I am a big basketball fan, so when the Rockets are in town I try to get to the Toyota Center. It seems our re-building stage has paid off. We have some solid players that should get us to the playoffs this year!
About Paul Petronella
Born and raised in Houston, Paul Petronella hails from a large Italian family and restaurants were typically the family business. They opened Paulie’s in 1998 and Paul has been operating his namesake solo since 2008. Since that time, he’s also partnered up with other Houston bar and restaurant owners to create OKRA and open the OKRA Charity Saloon. Most recently he opened Camerata at Paulie’s, his self-professed favorite wine bar in Houston. “I love sitting at Camerata after a long day at work,” Paul told us. “It really is one of my favorite places to relax and enjoy a new wine. And it’s rewarding to sit in an establishment you put months of sweat and hard work into, watched it evolve day by day, and now see how people enjoy it.”
Photo credit: Billy Smith