restaurant_11 INSALATA DI MARE, FRANCESCO FARRIS photography by Kevin Marple


ZIO CECIO CUCINA ITALIANA
Italian

After four visits to Chef Francesco Farris’ Sardinian-Italian restaurant, I was disappointed. I knew the chef could cook. He proved that in the kitchen of Arcodoro/Pomodoro. My experiences were marred by poor, undertrained service and erratic food quality. The review I published in January was less than favorable.

After nine months of eating all over Dallas, I found myself craving the one dish I’d admired: a Berkshire pork chop topped with thin slivers of garlic, cooked on a flat grill surrounded by an aromatic bitter honey and citrus reduction. I headed back in early fall to give the place another try.

Not only was the Berkshire pork chop just as fine as I remembered, but every dish we tried was spot on. The spaghetti infused with squid ink and mixed with fresh clams was no longer, as I’d previously written, “a bowl of tangled black hair.” The pasta was loose and wavy, the Manila clams too many to count. Paired with a glass from a bottle of Sella & Mosca, Cannonau di Sardegna, Riserva, the dish transported me to Sardinia.

Farris also refined his lamb presentation. In my first review, I wrote, “The lamb crusted with thyme could have been crusted with glass and we would never have known, because at least a cup of thick, brownish-red sauce drowned the chops. The tip-tops of the bones protruded from the deep sea of sauce like hands waving for rescue.” This time around, the meat of the gorgeous purplish-red chops glistened in the light, and Farris’ technique refined the sauce to a gentle Cannonau wine reduction.

Thin slices of seared scallop drizzled with olive oil is the most unique carpaccio presentation in Dallas. The gentle touch of a torch leaves the mollusk silky yet firm.

Farris has an aggressive dessert menu that includes a genuine tiramisu dusted with chocolate from Piedmont and a stunningly simple but elegant dish of fresh ricotta with little pools of bitter honey, black pepper, and lemon zest.

Not only was the service professional, but our server was Italian. He oozed charm and knowledge as he waved his arms, kissed his closed fingertips, and spoke about each dish with the same care, respect, and enthusiasm he would use if he were describing his love for his mother.

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