Down-home

Café Italia hits some rough spots, but it just might have some potential buried under the bumps

Lunch seems a little more up to the Tex-Itali task, if that is actually something that can be discovered and defined. Smoked salmon sandwich was simple, clean and hearty. The pink wedge of salmon (shoved between a moist, grill-scorched roll smeared with tartar sauce), flaked easily, though it was a little dry. At the base of the sandwich are layered paper-thin oblong slices of cucumber. The simplicity works.

Dessert also worked, especially in the feverish environs of this restaurant. (Jones was in the process of adding much-needed air conditioning capacity, and in the interim, he installed a pair of portable air conditioners with curved nozzles and long, white accordion ducts that reach into the ceiling, making the dining room look a little like a Tuscan science fair). Lemon tiramisu was light and refreshing and downplayed with no espresso, though there were chocolate shavings on top.

Café Italia is an odd room with furiously spinning ceiling fans that seem to do little more than force the rising hot air back down to the floor. Bookshelves backed with '70s-era wood paneling are stuffed with wine bottles, pictures and books. In a stab seemingly to create a new breed of eclecticism, drapery rods were installed in the ceiling, from which hang thin billows of fabric, seemingly placed at random around the restaurant. Well, almost at random. Draperies frame the bar (with a back bar gilded in copper sheeting) and one randomly selected table in columns of fabric. The remainder of these installations don't seem to have a purpose. Ruby chandeliers with little bead shades over the bulbs illuminate the place.

Café Italia has optic flair, even if the food doesn't.
Stephen P. Karlisch
Café Italia has optic flair, even if the food doesn't.

Location Info

Map

Cafe Italia

4615 W. Lovers Lane
Dallas, TX 75209

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Park Cities

Details

214-357-4200. Open for lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday; open for dinner 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday & Saturday. $$

Tuscan white bean dip : $5.25
Roasted portobello antipasto : $7.95
Pasta picatta: $10.95
Rigatoni salsiccia: $9.95
Sausage risotto: $15.95
Smoked salmon sandwich: $7.95
Lemon tiramisu: $5.50

4615 W. Lovers Lane

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Café Italia is one of those restaurant inspirations that you pray has potential buried somewhere, because despite the haphazard look of the dining room and the unruly composure of the menu, it has an inviting feel, one that makes you want to root for the darn thing. Maybe when that air conditioning comes on line, cooler heads will prevail.

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