Michael May

Restaurateur - Owner/Manager

best Italian restaurant in Houston, wine bar, catering

Michael May

Michael May is no stranger to the Houston business scene. In fact, the entrepreneurial streak in his family reaches back over 60 years, touching over three generations, and is still going strong. It all began with Michael’s grandfather, Albert Candelari, a first generation American who opened his own liquor store, Rex Liquor, in the mid 1900s. It didn’t take long for Papa Albert to start making–and serving–his own Italian sausage out of the back of his store.

A Legacy of Italian Sausage

After retiring, Papa Albert’s sausage recipe lived on for decades as a Candelari family heirloom, enjoyed primarily at holidays and special occasions. When Michael and his sister, Natalie, came of age to start a business of their own, they decided to team up and put their heart and soul into their grandfather’s legacy. Despite some very challenging local competition, the Candelari’s Sausage Company was launched in 1992.

Growing the Candelari Sausage Company

Michael oversaw production while Natalie went from door to door, and tradeshow to tradeshow, to promote their product. While many restaurants and groceries already had their favorites, blind taste tests was where they won the most ground. Nothing could compare to Papa Albert’s signature sausage. Only after Rice Epicurean Market put the sausage on their shelves, however, did things really take off.

The Birth of a Pizzeria

Despite these successes, the sausage business was a constant, uphill battle. After ten years, Michael’s high school friend, Greg Wheeler, made a proposition. There had to be another way of sharing Papa Albert’s sausage that was more rewarding, and more directly connected to the average person enjoying the sausage. What emerged from these discussions was the eventual shift in the Candelari Sausage Company business plan, followed almost immediately by the opening of the first Candelari’s Pizzeria. Michael’s original sausage recipes took center stage, with Papa Albert’s story as the centerpiece. The restaurant was an overnight success, and has grown to three restaurants across the greater Houston area. The sausage company remains open to this day, although now produces sausage, almost exclusively, for four restaurant locations. And while it still has a full line of sausages, only one is Papa Albert’s original Italian recipe.

BEing Italian means more than Sausage & Pizza

Michael May, however, still wanted more. While Candelari’s was a success, it would always be a ‘family pizzeria’. From his Italian upbringing and grandmother’s cooking, however, Michael knew that there was still a whole other side to Italian cooking. Hand-made pasta, tender risotto, lamb ragu, fresh seafood, and imported cheeses, like pecorino, was what he had in mind. Not to mention wine. Lots of it. Delicious, old world, Italian wine.

The Birth of Enoteca Rossa

As you’ve probably guessed, the end-result was the opening of Enoteca Rossa. Established in January 2016, in Houston’s upscale Bellaire community, Enoteca Rossa proudly offers the more refined side of Italian cooking in a traditional trattoria setting. Moreover, led by the culinary expertise of native Italian chef, Bruno Amato, the restaurant reaches back to its Italian roots in a very unfiltered way.

Become a Part of History

Now that you know his story, Michael would like to invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rich culinary heritage of his family. From Papa Albert’s sausage, to nonna’s favorite pastas, Enoteca Rossa is proud to deliver the promise of traditional Italian cooking.


Michael May, Restaurateur - Owner/Manager | Enoteca Rossa