Better In The 'Burbs

Plano restaurant delights with authentic Italian

Desserts are somewhat mundane, although a watermelon puree sparked the Sicilian-style cannoli and one of our female companions swooned over a torta al café.

A calamari appetizer seemed ordinary. Similar to fried rings served elsewhere, it was mostly a vehicle for two dipping sauces. Try the carpaccio, instead. Thicker than expected but with a silky texture and subtle flavor welcoming the sharp sting of capers, it's a beautiful start. Or settle for the more prosaic insalata caprese. Thick slabs of fresh buffalo mozzarella separate slices of tomato, the whole drizzled with olive oil and basil.

Yeah, it's served elsewhere. But remember, little things matter. Fresh ingredients, for one. With little cold storage space, Nicola's must order twice a day from vendors and Marchesi sometimes wanders into markets searching for mint or sage or whatever he needs. Does it make a difference gathering cookware in Italy? When electric slicers heat up they melt, ever so slightly, the delicate layer of fat on thin cuts of prosciutto. So Nicola's picked up a hand-cranked machine. Does service matter? While waiting for our table on one visit we overheard a woman seated near the bar complain about a vent blowing a steady blast of cold air. The manager immediately adjusted the temperature. Even when slammed by walk-ins from nearby Angelika Film Center, maitre d's address the situation with great poise. Waitstaff may stumble over a pronunciation or two, but they answer questions honestly and offer reasonable wine recommendations. And really, does hiring an Italian guy to run the kitchen matter? As a teenager Marchesi worked in his mother's kitchen and the place earned two Michelin stars. He arrived in this country 11 years ago, accepting a job as executive sous chef for the Italian pavilion at Disney's Epcot Center. Then he jumped to the highly regarded Donatoni's in Hawaii. In other words, his native cuisine is all he knows.

This is Plano? No, seriously...Plano? Yes it is, and Nicola's is worth the drive.
Tom Jenkins
This is Plano? No, seriously...Plano? Yes it is, and Nicola's is worth the drive.

Location Info

Map

Nicola's Ristorante

5800 Legacy Drive, Ste. C1
Plano, TX 75024

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Plano

Details

Antipasti misto della casa $12

Caprese $9

Calamari fritti $9

Carpaccio $10

Lasagnette $12

Panzerotti $14

Casarecci alla Bolognese $12

Dentice al Forno con carciofi $22

Costoletta alla Milanese $27

Torta al Café $7

Cannoli Siciliano $7

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And that's reason enough for a quick trip up the Tollway. 5800 Legacy Drive, Suite C1, Plano, 972-608-4455. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday.

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