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Great food is only a part of an extraordinary Italian meal.

Our Story Our Story

It is said that those who eat well, eat ItalianChi 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 atmosphere, the people, 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!

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 been designing 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.

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.

Trevor Titus

Sous Chef

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Trevor Titus

Sous Chef

Trevor Titus is originally from Chino Hills, California. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, California he began his culinary career as an intern at Petrossian in New York City. Within a year he was hired and promoted to be the Sous Chef of the Petrossian Boutique. He later began working at the Three Michelin Star Jean-Georges Restaurant in Columbus Circle, an experience that transformed his cooking. After two years he moved to Santa Barbara, California  to work at Angel Oak at The Ritz Carlton Bacara Resort and was promoted to Sous Chef within a year. After working 18 months under the wing of Chef Alex Bollinger he was promoted to Restaurant Chef of The Bistro at The Ritz Carlton Bacara. He implemented his training in French, Asian and American cuisine to create an eclectic and innovative variety of menus. After two years as a Restaurant Chef he moved to Houston where he accepted the Executive Chef position at The Village of Southampton. The Houston culture and  food scene opened his eyes to the southern style of cooking. Trevor is honored to now be working for Zanti Cucina Italiana which has brought him back to his Italian roots. When he is not cooking he enjoys woodworking, exercise, and soccer. He has a passion for cooking because he enjoys seeing how food can bring people together in times of need, laughter and love.

Humberto Fiesco

General Manager

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Humberto Fiesco

General Manager

Humberto brings to Zanti over 16 years of experience, originally from Mexico City with a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism Administration, always in the constant search to enhance the guest experience, has been develop within the hospitality industry in different projects in Mexico City, Los Cabos Baja California and Central America with Hotel brands as Marquis, Stara and Hyatt. Has participated in Gastronomic Festivals, Restaurant Openings and Culinary Events such Millemise for 3 years.

Amy Alfeld

AGM

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Amy Alfeld

AGM

Born and raised in Houston area, I first started in the hospitality business when I was a young kid (10-12) just refilling ice teas and waters at a local pub in a small town that my mother bartended at during the time earning small cash tips from servers. From there I was back in Houston and served at Russos’s Coal Fire Kitchen in Memorial right by the High School that I attended and graduated from. At this time in my life (16-18) I never thought at the time I would end up back in the industry. At the time I was extremely focused on basketball. I went on and played college basketball and always served tables in the summers. After basketball and college, I moved to Tyler Texas where I worked at different restaurants serving. Fast forward and I moved back to the Houston area (The Woodlands) and it is June of 2019. My brother told me about Zanti Cucina Italiana and that I should apply. Obviously, I did and here I am. I could never be more blessed to have come across this company, team, or ownership.

Paula Barletta

Manager

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Paula Barletta

Manager

Originally from Maracaibo, Venezuela, Paula is an Architecture Degree graduate from La Universidad del Zulia. While persuing her Bachelor’s Degree, she had her first contact with the restaurant industry while working in her aunt’s company, Sibamca. This is where she further developed hospitality, management and communication skills. Creative and innovative by nature, Paula also worked at a recognized art gallery in Venezuela, Galleria Miluna. This allowed her to also gain fundamental knowledge of marketing concepts.

Seeking new opportunities in the United States, Paula arrived at Zanti as a server within one week of it’s grand opening. Her work ethic and passion at Zanti, allowed Paula to grow as a team member and grasp an administrative role. Delighted by the opportunity, Paula hopes to continue to excel in customer service and bring smiles to everyone who walks inside the company doors.

Cesar Martinez

Manager

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Cesar Martinez

Manager

I was born in San Francisco California but grew up in Mexico most of my life. I was 14 years old when I knew the world of gastronomy and service, when my father instructed me in this way. 

I had the opportunity to learn and work in every area of what a restaurant means, dishwashers, kitchen assistant, bartender, waiter, supervisor etc … The vast majority of my knowledge is empirical, I was working in Fine Dining restaurants like Harry´s Steak House and Ciprianni. As well as recognized hotels such as Hyatt, Marriot, among others. It is my first year working in the United States but I am happy to live new and unique experiences.

Lianne Jelson

Controller

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Lianne Jelson

Controller

Lianne Jelson, Corporate Controller, brings to Zanti 20+ years of accounting and finance experience. Lianne has strong background in all areas of the financial reporting with a deadline driven mentality and a service-oriented mindset. Her previous work experience includes managing the finance functions at Café Express and Gringo’s TexMex. A long time Houston resident, she studied Hotel Restaurant Management at University of Houston and has her Bachelor of Science from LeTourneau University. Lianne is a proud parent of two eagle scouts.