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Review: Isabella’s

By D Magazine |
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photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

For now, there is just one isabella’s, a grandly mounted Italian restaurant in booming Frisco. But the owners—a couple of guys who’ve worked in restaurants, hotels, and clubs—intend to spawn a chain so that they can, as their website says, deliver “a consistent, profitable return for investors.” Sounds delish.

You can tell Isabella’s is bound for chain-dom. Its stone exterior evokes Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Its 5,500-square-foot interior is silly-big. Its menu feigns authenticity by name-dropping regions in Italy but settles for a generic middle-ground. It isn’t quite as bad as Olive Garden, but it doesn’t come close to the heights of, say, Bice, to cite an example of a small Italian chain that gets it right.

An antipasto plate held a few scant slices of prosciutto and salami, some pecorino cheese, and pitted olives. It came on a three-tier vertical rack that was showy but impractical for sharing. Waiting for the server to set it down on the table with painstaking care provoked one of those hilarious, awkward pauses.

Does this all come off as too harsh? The place wasn’t half bad. They did a decent job on the risotto, with chunks of asparagus that retained a fresh snap. And they offer seafood along with the pastas and chops, like sea bass smeared with olive pâté and Atlantic salmon with arugula and tomato. Desserts such as pistachio semifreddo were made in-house, and there’s a wine room set up for private events. “Chain” doesn’t have to be a dirty word.

Get contact information for Isabella’s.

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