Last night we slipped in to check out the latest in Italian restaurants in the Dallas area, Zio Cecio Cucina Italiana which is located on Lover’s Lane very near the original Neighborhood Services. The restaurant resides in the former Café Italia space but bears little resemblance to the old restaurant.
Upon entering the new restaurant we found chef-owner Francesco Farris formerly of Arcodoro and Pomodoro which he opened with his brother. Farris is known for his fresh and rustic Sardinian-style Italian food, and is known for his amazing ravioli which has won him awards.
Upon entering the restaurant you immediately are transported to a tiny Italian café. There is a small bar to the left and tables set closely that allows for an energetic feel. Straight ahead you will see the partially open kitchen and its shiny new Italian wood-burning oven.
The room is festooned with black and white photos of the Farris family. Later during the meal he would point out pictures of his grandmother and other family members.
There are about 52 seats in the restaurant, depending on who you might ask.
After a quick flute of Prosecco, we sat to order our meal. It was late on a Wednesday and the room was still buzzing heavily. It was then we noticed another familiar face, that of General Manager Alessio Franceschetti. His namesake restaurant, Alessio’s il Ristorante, which opened in Dallas in 1983 paved the road for the Italian wine market in the city by helping to showcase a new era of acceptance for high-end Italian wines.
There are some pretty exciting dishes on the menu including sea salt crusted whole fish. This is something I have not seen on a menu in a long while, and is a wonderful dish to share. The menu claims that it can be shared by two people, but with a salad and a selection from the antipasti menu, this dish could easily feed more.
What you won’t find: heavy red sauced dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna. What you will find: pastas and risottos prepared with fresh seasonal vegetables, as well as organic beef, lamb, pork and chicken and fresh seafood.
As it stands today, the wood oven is not functional as they are waiting final approval from the city and a finish out on the chimney, but look for the pizzas very soon, perhaps a week. There are plans to make many dishes besides pizza in the oven, including their steaks and seafood dishes.
We were ecstatic to see Chef Francesco Farris back at the helm of his own restaurant and look forward to many future visits. Look for brunch service in the coming weeks.