by Steven Doyle
It’s that crazy time of year with all the shopping and the packages and the shopping. It is also a fantastic time to gather the family for a super slice of Americana and take in the sites and sounds and flavor of the season. One of our very favorites places to find all this is in Grapevine. The city takes Christmas very seriously, and has a beautiful downtown display of holiday lights, a gorgeous tree in the gazebo and plenty of interesting shops to take in for gifts of all sorts. Grapevine is also a nice destination for restaurants with very few chains to be found, especially on Main Street. This is where we found Napoli’s Cafe, a fun Italian eatery that is serving up some primo cuisine.
The restaurant haws undergone a bit of a transition of late, now with two very distinct dining rooms, a large bar pouring lovely wines and tasty cocktails, and a totally separate area that sells locally made sweets and gelatos.
One reason the kitchen is pumping out delicious Italian is due to the chef, Vincenzo Pappano, who is quite famous in the Dallas area for his good works including Mi Piaci, but his roots begin in Palermo. A true citizen of the world, Pappano has a distinct accent that screams New York. His cuisine, admittedly, has been tempered for the local palate. But you will see technique and flavors that are not found anywhere else in our city. A perfect example is the calamari. What is generally bereft of flavor and technique, Pappano breathes life into the triangle steaks of what is typically flavorless and chewy. This version of calamari has a terrific bite, draped in an Italian seasoned breadcrumb and perched on top of a spicy red sauce that will have you dancing for joy. If for no other reason rest upon the bar, take in a flight of white wines (yes, they sell flights) and order the calamari. The dish comes with a side of fried spinach.
But there is more.
The night we took in the flavors of Napoli’s we enjoyed quite a few dishes, including an incredible eggplant parmesan that is composed so well, and tastes even better. Enjoy the stacks of freshly cut eggplant layered with cheese and resting in a small pool of sauce. Ask for it to be spiced up if you are so inclined. We were inclined, and all the better for the asking.
There are plenty of good choices for those with less adventure, we all have those relatives, and they will enjoy the pizzas and bountiful fettuccine Alfredo. The sauce is silky smooth, and they may add a choice of proteins including shrimp or chicken.
For the heartier appetite take in the osso buco that has been slowly roasted and laden with sauce. A mere touch has the meat mound caving in its tender glory. Gioant haunches of beef are available for the steak person in your group. It will come with a delicious char, so be ready for even more flavor.
The restaurant is fun and typically hopping seven days a week, so you may wish to call ahead for the perfect table to accommodate your group.
Please do not confuse this restaurant with the many similarly named spots dotting our landscape, the Grapevine location is individually owned and the only one with Pappano.