There have been a few new Italian restaurants hit Dallas in the past few months, and they have changed the culinary landscape for the better. One is the very recent Zio Cecio, which is run by restaurant veteran Francesco Farris which we took a look at some weeks back. Then we have the new addition to the Preston Royal intersection in the old Popolos digs with another restaurant veteran Patrick Colombo at the helm with Princi Italia.
The space at Princi has been slivered a bit, and the Colombo 86’d the banquet room which was turned into an AT&T store. The large bar that was in the middle of Popolos was taken out leaving the wood oven in front of the kitchen. A new bar was placed by the front door giving the room a more open feel.
Walking into the restaurant this past weekend we were pleased to see a few familiar faces including GM Michael Nichol, formerly of the Fairmont’s Pyramid. Nichol has this amazing talent to work a room. On this night we saw Nichol speeding across the floor, greeting guests and assisting the wait staff with plates.
The room has a definite buzz of energy, much of this from the sound levels that always give a space animation. Expect somewhat of a wait, but while doing so you will enjoy cocktails mixed up by another Fairmont alumnus, Ray Elizardo. Elizardo is magic behind the bar and has a new cocktail menu coming out in the next week or so. Watch for that.
Another great addition to Princi is the veteran chef, Kevin Ascolese, formerly of the now closed Ferre and Mi Piaci.
The dishes we tried this weekend were all pretty special with a nice focus on the wood burning oven. Particularly interesting were the variety of bruschetta including the Bruschetta di Bufala laden with chunks of fresh mozzarella and tomato, or the Fig & Gorgonzola that had drizzles of a balsamic reduction that perked up the bread with a punch.
Sometimes it might seem that mussels are overdone on Dallas menus, but we never really seem to grow weary of them and the Princi version is sublime with its tomato basil fennel broth.
Another wonderful appetizer was the Tortellini Fonduta with black truffle butter and parmesan. The perfectly al dente house-made pasta was lightly bathed in the sauce and gives the diner a taste of what is to come.
There is a large selection of pizzas, and we might recommend the Italian sausage roasted peppers, crimini mushrooms and wild oregano-basil if for no other reason than they make the sausage in house. Each pie is delicate and imaginative.
Selecting a main dish was a struggle. There were so many offerings that seemed inviting. The night we checked out Princi the special was a veal chop Milanese. It sounded wonderful and it lived up and past expectations. The chop is a giant haunch of veal, roasted with arugula, lemon, parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. Perfect and extremely satisfying.
We tried the Grilled Colorado Trout with crabmeat and sautéed spinach as well and enjoyed the perfectly grilled flavor, but the real star of the plate was the spinach which was reduced to a near crunch.
We did manage to save room for a dessert, and there are several to choose from. We decided to share a lemon curd tart which ended our night with a smile.
We are not sure if we can ever stop in the space and not think of Nora Jones. She got her start at Popolos so many years ago. If you try just a bit you might hear the echoes of the past, but enjoy the taste of the present.Princi Italia 5959 Royal Lane 214-739-5959