Sausage and peppers with house-made marinara sauce. Photo by Nancy Nichols.

Neighborhood Find: Roman Cucina in North Dallas

The food here is "Dallas Italian."

My sister-in-law Sarah eats at Roman Cucina in North Dallas at least once a week. She knows most of the staff, particularly the bartender who makes her favorite Tito’s Vodka martini. Sarah has been trying to get me to eat there for years. I joined her last Saturday. I left with a smile on my face and not just because of the food.

Roman Cucina is a true neighborhood restaurant. It’s not slick or trendy. Roman Cucina and other restaurants like it are the workhorses of our dining community. They are the places that serve food and drinks that satisfy their customers, not James Beard Award scouts.

The food is Dallas Italian.  They offer classic pasta dishes and a variety of housemade sauces. The simple marinara is slightly sweet. The diablo is big on garlic. Red sauce thick with ground beef tops a hearty plate of spaghetti decorated with meatballs. I loved my plate of sausage and peppers on gluten-free fusilli (pictured above).

The wine list will not win any awards, but the choices are inexpensive ($7). You leave with enough food for a lunch and a light dinner. But most of all, you will leave with the feeling that you’ve just shared food with a happy group of neighbors and made friends with a waiter working his way through UTD. It’s a cherished experience that only comes naturally to a restaurant that beats with the heart of a real community.