By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
Even the parsley at Arcodoro & Pomodoro is reason for excitement. Rather than garnish a dish with a sprig or a scattering of minced leaves, the kitchen places a few crispy cooked shoots of the herb atop certain dishes. It's a novel touch—and the slightly salty, slightly oily taste is a delightful contrast to rich sauces and thick soups.
100 Crescent Court, Ste. 140
Dallas, TX 75201
Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn
Good thing, because most of the leisure-class diners looked like they could use a bit of stimulation—and they sure weren't getting it from the restaurant's artworks or interior design. During a recent dinner visit, my dining companion and I—both in our 30s, mind you—were the youngest couple in the restaurant by a few decades, aside from the bored-looking adult children of the geriatric patriarch at a nearby table. That probably explains why we were whisked to the table in the corner nearest the kitchen door, though the fact that I was the only man not wearing a dark suit might have been a factor. Conversely, I was overdressed in the same jacket and slacks on a later lunch visit, during which polo shirts and penny loafers sans socks seemed to be the preferred attire for the 20-something Yuppies who dominated the dining room.
Fortunately, there is much more to Arcodoro & Pomodoro than the parsley.
The Sardinian-Italian restaurant moved in September 2009 from its longtime Routh Street location to the seemingly cursed Crescent Court location that formerly housed Bice and, before that, Sam's Cafe. With the move, the place replaced chef Franesco Farris with Luciano Salvadore and left behind its wood-burning oven. The ambiance upgraded from that of a relatively casual, family-friendly neighborhood atmosphere to a grand air of elegance and a clientele that doesn't have to ask the price of the nightly specials.
Yet, if the fish specialty I tried is any indication, those specials are worth it even if enjoying one means cold cereal and baloney sandwiches until the next paycheck. Grilled sea bass filets were nestled between crab cakes and served over sautéed onions and spinach leaves with spinach pasta and scallops in red sauce. On paper, it sounds like a mess, a mishmash of ideas something like the upscale seafood variety of the KFC Double Down: a fish sandwich with crab cakes as the bun. On the plate, however, it was a marvelous symphony of crispy crab cake and tender, moist fish. The harmony was embellished by delicate pasta—just hinting at the flavor of spinach that gives it its pale green hue—and a rich tomato sauce offset with sweet seared scallops and the tangy notes of scattered capers.
Simpler but just as satisfying was the pasta entree gulurgiones de casu canne al vento, half-moon pasta shells filled with cheese and served with a veal-and-tomato sauce. The menu describes the pasta's stuffing as "mild imported cheeses," but in this case "mild" must have been a relative term. It was assertive enough to hold its own against the sizable chunks of hearty veal.
Fortunately, the waiter was more than adequately knowledgeable to suggest a wine that could pair well with the disparate entrees. Steering us away from a lighter rossi, he recommended the similarly priced Cassegi Barbera—gracefully, without trying to push a more expensive wine on us. It proved a light-bodied, unoaked but brightly spiced red that neither overwhelmed the seafood nor backed down from the sharp, strong cheeses of the pasta.
The wine went equally well with our antipastos. Our starters included San Daniele grana e pere, an extraordinarily soft prosciutto that thankfully lacked the sodium overdose usually associated with the thin ham, served with salty, grainy grana padano cheese and caramelized pears in the restaurant's signature bitter honey. Together, they combined for a marvelous mix of sweet and salty tastes and soft and firm textures. Just as outstanding was the calamari fritti: Exquisitely tender and tossed in a light breading, it was served with fried slivers of zucchini. The squid was accompanied by a spicy red sauce.
If the white linen, polished silverware, decorative plates and other such touches of elegance are intended for the genteel, the $14.95 "Power Lunch" specials must be for their grandchildren who have a taste for finery but are still decades away from receiving their inheritances.
The lunch menu features many items from the dinner menu, but the Power Lunch menu offers a deal too good to pass up: one of three antipastos and one of four entrees for a buck or two more than most entrees would cost on their own.
Make that three entrees to choose from on our visit, as the chicken scallopini was sold out. But the ravioli in a rich cream sauce proved a fine stand-in. Even better was the salmon, cooked perfectly and served in a sweet bitter-honey and balsamic vinegar glaze on a bed of spinach and onions. The bruschetta antipasto—four toast points with diced tomato and pesto—was acceptable if not terribly exciting. The carrot, potato and fennel soup, on the other hand, was perhaps the most memorable moment of the meal. The pureed root vegetables could have been immensely bland, but a drizzle of sweet glaze, a few slivers of cheese and that incredibly simple yet impressive cooked parsley made it a highlight.
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