VICTORIA – Spiced with intriguing ideas and a laid-back atmosphere, formal business meetings and casual lunches live in harmony at Huvar’s Artisan Market.
The restaurant, sandwiched between city hall, a furniture shop and the skeleton of a former wine bar, offers a breath of fresh, albeit eclectic, air to downtowners looking for good eats.
Under the direction of Sean Fanelli, executive chef and general manager, Huvar’s new menu features salads loaded with organic greens, hot-pressed sandwiches, gourmet burgers and a selection of in-house, pecan- smoked bacon, in-house corned beef, pimento cheese and other goodies for sale by the pint or by the pound.
Fanelli, a Victoria native, left town when he was 18, and after 25 years away, preparing meals for Lady Bird Johnson, the Austin Council on Foreign Affairs and other dignitaries, he’s getting back to his roots.
It’s a philosophy Fanelli, 43, incorporates into his cooking.
“It’s upscale homestyle,” he said.
On the catering side of the business, Fanelli is growing a reputation for instilling special memories into each dish with custom menus and his own flair.
While Victoria may have a reputation as a meat-and-potatoes town, he enjoys guiding customers to new flavors, including Creole, Mediterranean and Vietnamese fare.
Robert Briggs and his wife, Erica, brought the restaurant to life in 2010, and with it, brought a light-hearted spirit back to downtown Victoria.
The couple grew up in Victoria and knew Fanelli from Stroman High School.
“We wanted to get businesses back downtown, to the heart of the city,” Robert Briggs said.
In 1946, the building was home to Huvar and Son Grocery; although, Fred Huvar’s original store opened in 1920 on South Main Street. The grocery store eventually closed in 1999, according to Advocate archives.
Briggs said his goal was to keep the “market feel” of the original grocery store, giving the environment an eclectic, creative spin.
Fanelli is still putting to words how he envisions Huvar’s.
“My interpretation is that it’s tried and true traditional food done in a healthier, fresher way with a modern twist,” Fanelli said. “It’s the difference of having it fresh.”
Published Aug. 30, 2014, in the Victoria Advocate