Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road...Featuring Houston's Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE #WGHitstheRoad

Photo provided by Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE
My hometown of Houston is on a lot of radars at the moment, because the Super Bowl is being held there next weekend. We typically spend our time visiting our families when we go home. However, during a recent trip we enjoyed an overnight getaway with our teenage niece Lili at the elegant Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE. This 266-room luxury boutique hotel is located within the city's popular CITYCENTRE development -- which features lots of great restaurants and retail locations. We especially loved that once we parked our car, we never had to leave the CITYCENTRE area during our stay at Sorella. Everything we needed was available either at the hotel, or it was just a short walk away within the CITYCENTRE complex. Talk about convenient! Sorella is part of the Valencia Hotel Group. Key amenities include on-site dining, a large rooftop swimming pool area, a fitness center, high-speed Internet access, and a convenient complimentary continental breakfast in the lobby area each morning. 

Photo provided by Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE

When we arrived, we parked our car and checked in at the Sorella's spacious lobby. I loved the cool, modern decor. Our room wasn't quite ready, so we left our bags and decided to have lunch at Grimaldi's pizza at CITYCENTRE. Grimaldi's was a quick 5-minute walk from the Sorella. We're huge fans of Grimaldi's delicious New York-style pizza, so we were so excited to introduce Lili to it! We ordered our signature flavor: pepperoni and Italian sausage with pesto, paired with a Mediterranean salad. The salad was super fresh and bursting with flavor thanks to a generous amount of feta cheese and the perfectly tart vinaigrette. We always enjoy this salad at Grimaldi's while we wait for our pizza to cook.
The pizza came to the table with a perfect thin crust, zesty tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, flavorful pepperoni and sausage, and a drizzle of basil pesto. This is pizza nirvana, folks! After our lunch, we explored CITYCENTRE a bit more as we walked over to have dessert at Sweet bakery. This adorable bakery is known in Houston for its creative cupcakes, macarons, and locally produced Greenway Coffee. We decided to try a few of their signature cupcake and macaron flavors. 
The macarons were perfection! We loved all of the flavors, but our favorites were the Rose, Nutella, and fun Fruity Pebble flavors. Sweet's cupcakes were amazing as well, especially the Berry Cheesecake and their signature S'mores. The S'mores cupcake features a graham cracker base, dark chocolate cake, and a generous amount of marshmallow fluff that's dipped in rich chocolate ganache. Heaven! By then, our room was we made the short walk back to our home base at the Sorella.

We picked up our room keys at the front desk, then we headed up to our room. It featured dark hardwood floors and amazing views of CITYCENTRE from our large floor-to-ceiling window. After we admired the view for a bit, we noticed that the friendly staff at the Sorella had left us some snacks and wine as a welcome gift...such a nice touch! Our Double beds were very comfortable, and they featured luxurious Egyptian cotton linens. We were very impressed with the creature comforts in our room -- including a 37-inch flat screen plasma television and designer toiletries. After a brief rest, we decided to check out the rooftop pool area -- which is one of the Sorella's main social hubs. We changed into our bathing suits, grabbed our robes, and headed down to the pool.
The pool area features comfy poolside chaise lounges -- some with elegant white canopies -- and tasty cocktails from the adjacent Monnalisa Bar. We had fun splashing in the pool, visiting...and sampling some of the bar's signature cocktails.

Photo provided by Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE

The pool area was such a relaxing oasis to enjoy a laidback
afternoon! The hotel surprised us with specialty cocktails served poolside. All of the cocktails were festive and extremely creative, but our favorite was the tropical pina colada-inspired cocktail on the left. It contained champagne, vodka, peach syrup, and a creamy base. We spent the remainder of the afternoon sipping our cocktails, listening to the fun music being played by the pool, floating in the pool, chatting, and relaxing in the comfy chaise lounges. Before we knew it, it was time to head upstairs to get ready for our multi-course Italian dinner at Sorella's Radio Milano restaurant. But first, we couldn't resist snapping a few more pictures of the pool area!
When we arrived at Radio Milano, we were warmly greeted by the hostess and shown to our table. We ordered the House Made Burrata for our appetizer, then our server collaborated with the bar's mixologist to create cocktails customized to match our favorite flavor profiles -- so fun and creative! They even created a custom mocktail for Lili! The burrata was so tasty -- incredibly creamy! It was served drizzled with olive oil, accompanied by grilled toast and a refreshing salad of greens and tomatoes.
For our entrees, we opted to sample a fish dish, a grilled steak, and a signature pasta dish. Lobster Ravioli was made with fresh pasta and featured a creamy filling and huge pieces of decadent. The grilled ribeye was smoky and perfectly cooked, served with roasted cauliflower and a red wine sauce. The seared fish dish was topped with chopped macadamia nuts, roasted potatoes, and fresh seasonal vegetables. The entrees were expertly prepared and full of flavor. While we perused the dessert menu, our server surprised us with a sweet Key Lime Pie dessert cocktail. It tasted just like key lime pie, complete with a graham cracker crumb rim and meringue-like whipped cream on top!
For dessert, we shared a chocolate souffle and a creative ice cream dessert. The rich dark chocolate souffle was served with caramel and strawberry sauces on the side. It was very rich, which made it perfect for sharing. The ice cream dessert featured a small scoop of vibrant green pistachio ice cream rolled in chocolate cookie crumbs. Then it was sprinkled with ground pistachio and shaved chocolate. It was served in a pool of berry coulis. It was so light and refreshing! It was the perfect ending to our dinner. 

Before heading back to our room, we decided to go for a walk around the CITYCENTRE area just out of the Sorella. The shops and restaurants were all lit up, and there were twinkle lights in the trees. In the background, we could see the city lights of Houston around us in all directions. Together, it made for such a magical scene!
After admiring the nighttime cityscape, we headed to our room to get some sleep. Before turning out the lights, we reflected on what a relaxing, fun day it had been. Everything we needed was within the CITYCENTRE complex -- so we didn't have to worry about traffic, parking, or other travel hassles. We were able to simply relax and enjoy each other's company! The next morning, we headed downstairs to enjoy the complimentary continental breakfast in the lobby.
 The breakfast is served buffet style and includes fresh seasonal fruit, yogurt, cereal, delicious French pastries, and coffee and tea. It was a perfect way to start our Sunday! After breakfast, it was time to check out. We all agreed that our overnight getaway to Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE was a perfect way to unwind and have a relaxing weekend getaway. If you find yourself visiting Houston -- or if you live in the area and are looking for an upscale staycation destination -- Sorella is an ideal choice! Reservations can be made by calling Sorella at 1.855.596.3397. You can also visit Sorella's website to make reservations online if you prefer.

Disclosure: Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE hosted us for an overnight stay -- including poolside cocktails and dinner at Radio Milano -- to facilitate this feature. Grimaldi's and Sweet also provided us with complimentary menu items to facilitate inclusion in this article. All opinions stated are solely my own.

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