An exciting new restaurant from two veteran operators is coming to The Heights. Da Gama Canteen, an Anglo-Indian restaurant from Rishi Hospitality owners Shiva and Rick Di Virgilio, will open next fall at M-K-T, the massive new mixed-used development currently under construction just north of I-10 on Shepherd Drive, developer Radom Capital announced.
The Di Virgilios tell CultureMap that Da Gama, named for the Portuguese explorer who navigated a sea route to India, represents an evolution of the British-Indian pub fare they served at The Queen Vic, which closed in 2018. Although they contemplated reopening the pub in a new location, they opted instead to develop this new concept.
“We’ve been exploring this idea for awhile, especially as we’ve been spending time with our son,” Shiva Di Virgilio says. “We want to dive deeper into our Portuguese-Indian heritage.”
Although the menu is still under development, Rick Di Virgilio does share some details. The restaurant will feature charcoal cooking and house-baked breads. Spices for curries will be toasted fresh to ensure maximum potency and flavor.
“We’ll have a unique wine list, kind of specific to the cuisine,” he says. “Whereas Queen Vic was more beer and cocktails, we’ll be more wine [oriented] with a small, curated cocktail menu.”
In terms of atmosphere, Da Gama will be more casual in the afternoon before turning more adult and wine bar focused at night. Its location on The Heights bike trail should help ensure the restaurant has a lively patio. Michael Hsu, designated as the architect of record for M-K-T, also worked with the Di Virgilios on Oporto Fooding House & Wine, their Midtown tapas restaurant.
Choosing The Heights also represents an evolution for the couple. They live in the neighborhood and are excited to be contributing to one of the city’s most vibrant dining scenes.
“We think it’ll be a special spot for us,” Rick Di Virgilio says. “We met with every developer. [Radom Capital’s] Steve [Radom] and Barton [Kelly] do it right. We have the same architect. It seemed like a good match.”
Da Gama is one of a few restaurants that have been announced for M-K-T, which will offer 200,000-square-feet of retail, dining, and office space across a 12-acre property. Others include Mendocino Farms, the sandwich shop from California, and Honeychild’s Sweet Creams, an ice cream shop that’s a staple at the Urban Harvest farmers market. More announcements are expected soon.
“The M-K-T team is very excited to have Rick and Shiva join the project,” Kelly tells CultureMap. “We are looking forward to what this talented duo has up their sleeve. Da Gama will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood and their trail-facing patio should be a lot of fun.”