Menu

Food is but a part of the
pleasure of an Italian meal.

Our Story Our Story

It is said that those who eat well, eat Italian—Chi mangia bene, mangia italiano—and not only because of molten mozzarella and salty olives and charred cherry tomatoes… ripe pear and delicate prosciutto and thick ribbons of fresh pappardelle… soft, crisp pizzas flecked with basil and Gorgonzola. Food is but a part of the pleasure of an Italian meal.

We believe that to truly eat well, you must not forget the importance of l’ambiente, la compagnia, and l’ingrediente—the setting, the company, and of course, the ingredients—all essential to the Italian experience.

Simple and unhurried, Zanti honors the Italian tradition of bringing together the best of each day, from the thoughtfully chosen ingredients to the families gathered in conversation to share their stories and their meal. It is a place to feel yourself among friends and to enjoy the gifts of time and food.

If this sounds a little sentimental, it probably should—this is how Zanti came to be. Zanti draws its name from one of the restaurant’s founders, Santiago Pelaez, whose affectionate nature and passion for pleasing others earned him the nickname “sentimental Santi” from his very large and teasing family. The joys of exploring food and cooking and caring for those around him are among his earliest memories. As he and his brothers grew their family’s hospitality business over the years, and across several countries, it seemed inevitable to everyone that Santiago would one day open a restaurant of his own.

That day has happily arrived. Together with his brothers and acclaimed Italian chef Stefano Ferrero from Piemonte, Italy, Santiago is delighted to welcome The Woodlands to Zanti, now open for lunch, dinner, and drinks each day of the week.

Our Team Our Team

Our team is joined by a true love for food and a passion for service. Each among us was carefully chosen for his or her insistence on quality, history of excellence in the hospitality business, and ability to consistently create the best possible experience for our guests—con brio!

Stefano Ferrero

Executive Chef

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Stefano Ferrero

Executive Chef

Executive Chef Stefano Ferrero brings over fifteen years of experience in the culinary arts and food and beverage fields. His professional beginnings date back to his childhood—he grew up in Piedmont, a region in northern Italy, where vineyards and traditional food make for a critical part of the region’s cultural heritage and economy. Stefano was inspired by his father’s culinary arts career, actively involving himself in the family’s restaurant from a young age and going on to work in specialized restaurants and hotels across Italy, Switzerland, and Mexico after completing the culinary program at Switzerland’s Centro Professionale Spai Trevano. At Zanti, Stefano combines his technical skill, gastronomic innovation, and innate passion for the art of handcrafted fresh pasta, delicatessen, and authentic Italian dishes.

Joel Fernandez

Executive Sous Chef

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Joel Fernandez

Executive Sous Chef

Executive Sous Chef Joel Fernandez brings to Zanti over 14 yearsʼ experience, beginning in his native Peru. After studying culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami, he earned steady promotions in the cityʼs thrumming hospitality industry— including as sous chef for the Biltmoreʼs Palme dʼOr, which went on to become the only AAA Diamond restaurant in Miami. Joel made his way west to the vineyards of Fredericksburg, where he partnered with wineries to develop tasting menus, and eventually to Houston, where he worked as sous chef for The Oceanaire and North Italia.

Heriberto Zuniga

Sous Chef

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Heriberto Zuniga

Sous Chef

Sous Chef Heriberto Zuniga discovered his deep appreciation for Italian cuisine as a boy in Mexico, which only intensified after moving to the States at age 11, where Texas introduced him to a variety of foods that would fuel his lifelong passion for cooking. He began his culinary career at Pappas Brothers Steakhouse in Houston, then worked diligently as lead cook for North Italia, where after two years he left as a sous chef to join us at Zanti.

Santiago Pelaez

CEO and Founder

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Santiago Pelaez

CEO and Founder

Founder Santiago Pelaez—better known as Santi—began working in the hospitality business at age 15. With a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, graduate degree in Restaurant Administration, and associate degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America, he has since designed large-scale kitchens and environmentally-conscious kitchen equipment; opened and managed the food and beverage departments of more than a dozen hotels, including Marriott, Hyatt, and Emporio brands; and led the only Italian restaurant in Mexico City to claim the coveted Silver Plate award from Italy. He is known additionally for his work with culinary schools and community youth to develop academic and internship programs that advance the quality of education and opportunity for future culinary enthusiasts.

Chris Seaman

General Manager

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Chris Seaman

General Manager

Chris was raised in the Midwest but has been a true Texan for more than 30 years. He attended the University of Texas at Austin before embarking on a rewarding 24-year restaurant career. Chris has opened dozens of new restaurants across the country and held GM positions at several nationally recognized chains before joining the Zanti team in the Spring of 2019. He is looking forward to establishing the Zanti brand in The Woodlands and being a key part of its’ future growth.

Aimee Manuel

Assistant General Manager

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Aimee Manuel

Assistant General Manager

Aimee Manuel’s passion for food and hospitality began early and accelerated quickly. She attended the first hospitality program offered at Magnolia High School and went on to attend the Art Institute of Houston, where she helped introduce the first hospitality club at her local college. Aimee’s career includes positions at The Woodlands Resort, PF Chang’s, and Brio Tuscan Grille; she now channels her experience and enthusiasm as assistant GM at Zanti. Sarà fantastico!

Stephanie McComas

Manager

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Stephanie McComas

Manager

Stephanie was born and raised in Pennsylvania, where her restaurant career started 12 years ago. Working all positions for well known restaurants over the years, she brings experiences and excitement to the growth of Zanti restaurants. Her enthusiasm and positivity shines through her work and her desire to help others grow.