Since leaving their radio program at the first of the year both Gene and Julie Gates have been undertaking the task of a lifetime: opening their very own restaurant. They have taken the ultimate risk and laid out their personal savings and time away from their money-maker which is their radio talent. They may have said good-bye to their millions of radio listeners, at least for the moment, but many of those same fans have made their way to the Gate’s restaurant, Battuto to sample some very fine Italian cuisine.
Having spoken to the Gate’s on numerous occasions it is easy to see that they care about what their guests think and feel about the cuisine they are offering each. night. It is not unusual to spot either one, or both of the them at the restaurant toiling in one capacity or another. On the last visit I spotted Gene mixing cocktails and offering wine selections to a handful of attractive women perched at the bar. Later that same evening the Gates family could be seen across the room dining together on fresh pasta and looking exactly like anyone would after a very long day of working a double shift.
This is the type of dedication that shines through on each dish we sampled last night.
I brought along our resident Italian friend who was quite pleased with most of the fare, including one terrific tasting bison and pork ragu with handmade pappardelle noodles. “This dish is what will define a restaurant,” he said as he slurped up half my bowl of pasta. It passed the test.
He wasn’t as well pleased with the pizza, a pie that I am totally mesmerized with. For a Brooklyn kid you might want the crust a bit thinner, a bit crispier. I found the crust light as a feather with tiny, delicious spots of char from the dedicated oven. Pizza is so personal, but this pie was one of my favorites in the city. Possibly because of the ingredients which on this pizza was spec, quail eggs and arugula. There is a whole egg on each slice.
Other dishes we sampled included the risotto topped with very well prepared and creamy scallops. The scallops were cooked perfectly, but yea, yea, yea. They were scallops. The star of the plate was another defining dish, the risotto. It seems difficult for many chefs to plate a perfect risotto. This version was tart and lemony, with just the perfect bite. Order this dish.
Using the pizza oven to its full potential, Gates prepares his branzino in the oven on high heat. The whole fish, swimmers and all, are plated for a moist fish experience that borders on holiness.
The Gnocchi Modo Mio is an homage to Chef Rino Brigliadori, chef-owner of Positano from the same intersection of Dallas where Battuto resides. This is a lighter than air potato pasta with pesto tomato sauce that will make you cry out to the saints. It is a fantastic dish with a rich Dallas history, and is super sweet that the Gates included this homage on their menu.
Brigliadori is actually the inspiration for Battuto. The Gates live very close to the restaurant’s neighborhood, and wanted a dining option just like Positano. Gene had been wanting to get back into the restaurant business for some time, he had managed many for years.
Julie Gates spoke to us a bit last night and said that the menu would soon be transitioning from the opening menu to something with greater character. Currently they are offering the basics, but soon this little petal will bloom and take hold of its neighborhood as it truly should. We love Battuto, and look for many wonderful dishes to come.
Be sure to check out the desserts. Battuto secured an amazing FOH manager that also doubles as a pastry chef. Well, this is a pastry chef who doubles as a manager. Something like that. She has the chops and has worked some of the finer restaurants around the country.