Artful innovation is all well and good. But sometimes you just want to cozy up to a red-and-white checkered tablecloth, lit by a candle stuffed in an empty Chianti bottle, and dig into a mound of shrimp scampi and a basket of garlic bread. Humming “Volare, oh oh, cantare, oh oh oh oh” is up to you. Here are our top picks, including a couple that are lighter on the sauce and heavier on the class.
Phil Romano’s splashy restaurant in Trinity Groves boasts an elevated price point and waiters sporting long white aprons. Start with a Negroni or limoncello martini, then go on to ricotta-filled manicotti, a free-form Sicilian lasagna nestling ragù and tiny meatballs, and spumoni ice cream served in a martini glass.
The former Egyptian Lounge now has red and green paint on the walls and a dim glow from red candles. Slide into a booth and have a classic side salad (wet iceberg lettuce) with a rectangular pizza, the same shape it’s been since the 1940s, at the oldest Italian restaurant in Dallas.
At this comforting husband-and-wife-run BYOB, we’ve seen people kissing across the table, like in Lady and the Tramp. Go for arancini filled with molten Gorgonzola, baked ziti, and penne vodka diavolo with a satiny tomato cream sauce.
Take in the red drapes and dark interior, with photos hung up on the walls. Choose bone-in veal, veal medallions parmigiana, or delicate flounder picatta in a lemon butter sauce with capers. Don’t miss the cannoli, served on a beautiful floral plate.
It’s easy to overlook this tiny Bishop Arts wine bar. But it’s worth stopping in the family-owned restaurant for the fried mozzarella planks, creamy fettuccine Alfredo, and live music on Saturdays.
Tony Bennett has eaten several times at Julian Barsotti’s Italian-American restaurant, and every time he ordered the house-made spaghetti and meatballs. At a spot that blends tradition with a seasonal touch, you’ll find a meatball hero on the lunch menu, salads like hearts of escarole with walnuts and pecorino, and the ever-popular Sunday gravy.
A warm family atmosphere inhabits this humble joint with hand-painted murals. Try garlic bread knots, any of the menu’s broiler-kissed baked dishes, and stromboli and calzones using the house pizza dough.
This is Italian-American glamour, starting with a fleet of servers in tuxedos. Then a gorgeous antipasti spread on the house, with the best garlic bread in the city. There are baked clams Antoine, a carpaccio based on Harry’s Bar in Venice, and a tableside Caesar. Lobster stuffed with spaghettini and bone-in veal parmigiana complete the drama at Julian Barsotti’s latest Italian concept.