Wednesday, September 27, 2023 Sep 27, 2023
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Food & Drink

How to Create Your Own Italian Vacation in Dallas

From wine to pasta to espresso, here’s how to experience Italy—no plane ticket required.
By Rachel Pinn |
A cheese board from Scardello.

Summer 2023 is coming to a close, and Dallasites have returned from their trips across the country or around the globe. For many of us, the best thing about the season is the opportunity to travel and experience life in a different place for a little while.

In June, I did just that on a wine-focused trip to two wine regions in Italy: Veneto and Abruzzo. The trip was a flurry of vineyard visits, winemaker meet-and-greets, winery tours, and tastings at every stop along the way. My favorite bits were all the things in between sips: the scents, the epic views, the surprising food, and the passionate people. 

While I’d love to have been able to package up all the wine, espresso, pasta, and fashion—along with a couple of my favorite winemakers—and bring them all back with me, I’ll have to settle for photographs, texts, and visits from the new friends I made, and my memories from the experience. 

Since coming back home, I’ve found myself yearning for a taste of my time in Italy. A quick walk up and down the aisles at Eataly would certainly scratch the itch, with its massive and curated inventory of imports. Instead, I’ll share a few of my local finds, in case Italy is calling you, too.


Grappolo Wine Shop for a private tasting: Grappolo is an online retailer based in Irving that was started by two Italians wanting to bring the Italian experience to DFW. The inventory is packed with bottles from small-scale wineries like the ones we visited in Abruzzo and Veneto featuring grape varieties like Montepulciano, Trebbiano, Amarone, and Pecorino. 1915 Peters Rd. Ste. 206, Irving.

The Meteor Cafe for an unusual bottle: Opening just last week, The Meteor has a strong showing of Italian bottles in its shop, focusing on low intervention/natural/organic and biodynamic wines. Many of the winemakers we spoke to this summer were extremely passionate about low-intervention wines, organic processes, and biodiversity when it comes to the various fruits and vegetables grown and harvested among and around the vines, so I’m excited to try some of what The Meteor has to offer. 950 Hi Line Dr.


Partenope for prosciutto e melone: Juicy, orange cantaloupe is often served wrapped in salty prosciutto or served on its own in sweet half-moons that are just the right thickness to cut with the side of your fork. I’m not sure I’ll ever taste a cantaloupe as perfect as the one I had at Tenuta Tre Gemme winery in Veneto, but I’m going to be looking for quite some time. Partenope downtown would be a great place to start. 1903 Main St. 

Nonna for gnocchi alla romana: When I was in Italy, I had what bordered on too much gnocchi, if such a thing is possible. At least one of these pillowy plates was bright green and stunningly similar to Nonna’s gnocchi alla romana, which blends asparagus and petite peas with an herbaceous crema. 4115 Lomo Alto Dr.

Scardello for Italian cheeses: Before the charcuterie board craze and well before “girl dinner” became a polarizing fad, wineries like the ones we visited offered a palate-cleansing snack of cured meats, cheeses, breads with olive oil, and small bites to enjoy between sips. Recreate that magic at home with a visit to Scardello, where the curated cheeses offer plenty of perfect pairings. 3511 Oak Lawn Ave. 

Fount Board + Table for some perfect bresaola: The yang to cheese’s ying, a wine tasting is incomplete without salty cured meats. The last and largest winery we visited in Veneto, Tinazzi, served luxurious ribbons of lean cured beef known as bresaola. Duck into Fount Board + Table in Uptown and snag yourself some to add to your tasting graze. 2414 Routh St

Olio&Olive for Italian olive oil: One of my favorite discoveries about wineries is that many of them produce their own unique olive oil using the olives they plant near the vines. Online Italian gourmet store Olio&Olive caters to those in search of a taste of Italy. The store’s selection of extra virgin olive oils is well-curated, and the “will call” option to pick up is pretty handy. 14217 Proton Rd.

Jimmy’s Food Store for espresso in the true Italian style: You may have heard that in Italy there are actually two ways to have coffee. One is the usual way: walk up to the counter and order a cappuccino or americano. Or perhaps you sit and order from a server. But the second, and arguably more Italian way is to order an espresso from a bar on the side, meant to be enjoyed quickly while standing. Jimmy’s Food Store on Bryan Street has a sign out front touting $1 espresso, basically made for that made-to-order-and-pronto version. 4901 Bryan St.

Cafe Duro for a more leisurely sip: Cafe Duro on Greenville Avenue seems to have that comfortable Italian vibe down. Choose a bottle of Italian wine, or order a cappuccino and sit to enjoy it with a bite, a friend, or both. The thoughtful, modern design of the place ties a bow on the whole European cafe experience. 2804 Greenville Ave.

Palmieri Cafe for Italian pastries: In Italy, croissant-style pastries are called cornettos, and I ate them as often as I could, saying “When in Rome…” a bit too often. One hotel in Abruzzo offered them filled with chocolate or cream a la minute, stuffed right after you ordered it. A dream! Visit Palmieri Cafe inside the Dallas Farmers Market for a cornetto or two. 920 S. Harwood St., Ste. 100.

Botolino Gelato Artigianale for authentic Italian gelato: Authentic is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days, but when the owner of a gelateria hails from a long line of Italian gelato makers with the passion for quality that Carlo Gattini possesses, there’s really no more accurate phrase. When I walked into a gelato shop in Verona and ordered passion fruit gelato, I was reminded of Botolino’s tart Tutti Frutti, made with tropical fruits and served with pride. 2116 Greenville Ave.; 5959 Royal Ln., Ste. 622. 

Design, Fashion and Vibes

Sassetta for imported Italian design: The Italians are known for their colorful hand-blown glassware and light fixtures, tile and textiles. Sassetta inside The Joule hotel downtown has imported all of these from Italy in order to bring the most gorgeous Italian interior design to life while you enjoy a glass of Prosecco from Veneto, naturally. 1530 Main St., Ste 100.

Via Triozzi for Italian spirit: The newest Italian restaurant to open up in town happens to remind me of the last dinner in Soave, spent at an open-air cafe enjoying more gnocchi, roasted vegetables, and steak, ending the evening with one last espresso so I could stay up until it was time to leave for the airport in the wee hours the next morning. 1806 Greenville Ave.

Etro for Italian fashions: It’s impossible to visit Italy without noticing the unique fashion sense there and the emphasis on quality pieces. At Chiusa Grande winery, the winemaker’s style was stunning. Picture a muted hibiscus-and-palm print shirt paired with linen trousers with large-scale squares stitched in thick espresso-brown thread, brightly-colored striped socks peeking out beneath black leather loafers. That same quiet confidence and luxury styling can be found at Etro in Highland Park Village. 8 Highland Park Village.

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