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The Best New Restaurants in Dallas 2011

Where to find some of the city's greatest bites to eat.
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photography by Kevin Marple

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photography by Kevin Marple



Italian | Princi Italia




Image
photography by Kevin Marple
The roster of talent at this restaurant reads like an all-star team from the top places in Dallas in the ’80s and ’90s. The owner, Patrick Colombo, co-founded the original Sfuzzi on McKinney Avenue. Colombo went on to open Ferre, Cru, and Victory Tavern. Executive chef Kevin Ascolese and bread, pizza, and pastry chef David Brawley both worked the kitchens of Sfuzzi, Mi Piaci, Ferre, Crescent Court, and Salve. Ascolese also cooked at Cru. Brawley was the pastry chef at Ferre until he made headlines for using a wild yeast starter for pizza dough at Fireside Pies. He has since completed training at the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana in Marina del Rey and is now a certified pizzaiolo.



This formidable group of geezer gourmets has taken over the old Popolos space and reworked it into a swanky, slick dining room with Dallas-friendly Italian food (meaning entrées priced below $20). The chic interior hasn’t stopped loyal, silver-haired Popolos customers from migrating back to their roost at the bar. It’s livelier than ever. The restaurant has been slammed since day one with soccer moms and their teams, flocks of designer-clad Realtors, large family gatherings, and a few tattooed millennials.


Ascolese’s menu of salads, pasta, pizza, and specials features a few of his greatest hits (tagliatelle Bolognese) along with some new material (fava bean bruschetta). The Bolognese is not the typical American tomato-and-meat, sloppy-Joe presentation you find around town. Ascolese’s version is lighter. He tosses the house-made pasta with a sauce made with beef, pork, prosciutto, veal, bay leaf, cinnamon, carrots, celery, garlic, clove, and tomato paste mixed with enough veal stock, white wine, butter, and cheese to give it body. When you finish—and you will finish it—the bottom of the bowl is oil free, like nothing was ever there.


Brawley’s 14-inch pies ($13 to $16) are inspired. The black fig and Gorgonzola is my favorite. The thin crust displays just the right amount of black char from the gas-and-wood-burning oven. The bubbling Gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses are decorated with crisp bits of pancetta, figs, and fresh arugula.


Desserts are equally appealing. You can choose between the gingered pear chocolate cake with sea salt caramel gelato, and the lemon curd tart on a crust made of crushed pistachios and garnished with fresh raspberries—or you could order both. You only live once.





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