At Zio Cecio, Priced Out Until the Pasta

High-priced dishes obscure the cooking at Zio Cecio -- until the pasta comes.

Spaghetti vongole, little manila clams with tomatoes over squid ink pasta, was perfection. And ordering the fettuccine Bolognese delivered a rich and hearty tomato-driven dish. Ravioli was excellent on both counts. Try the seafood and cheese with a pistachio cream sauce, or potato laced with mint covered in rich red — both pass.

Each of the carpaccios delivered exactly what anyone should expect of Italian food: clean, simple cooking — if you call carpaccio cooking. Pounding maybe. Thin wisps of beef draped the plate like wet velvet, and took well to a dressing of lemon, capers and shaved curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

A scallop version was just as good. Maybe better. The shellfish were a windowpane — opaque glass as a backdrop to onions with little bite, lemon, microgreens and thin slivers of tomato. "What are those pink things?" a tablemate asked. The out-of-season tomatoes were pale and lifeless. And while I'd similarly bash the caprese salad, it would make me a broken record. I'd be playing the same tune all over Dallas till next June.

The seafood ravioli tastes good and won't make you want to steal glassware.
Sara Kerens
The seafood ravioli tastes good and won't make you want to steal glassware.

Location Info

Map

Zio Cecio Cucina Italiano

4615 W. Lovers Lane
Dallas, TX 75209

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Park Cities

Details

Zio Cecio Cucina Italiana
Spaghetti vongole $19.50
Seafood ravioli $19.50
Potato ravioli $15.50
Spaghetti carbonara $14.50
Spicy octopus $12.50
Beef carpaccio $8.50
Various desserts $8.50

Dessert was harder to pick on. Even though the red-pepper gelato was the furthest thing I had encountered from the frozen Italian delicacy (it was more like frozen soft-serve), the flavor was still fun. And ricotta hit with citrus zest was simply dressed in honey, a couple of puffy meringues thrown in for good measure. (The kitchen needs to stay away from the citrus pith; one night the dessert was impossibly bitter.) Tiramisu though, was everything a dessert should be, with a light, delicate texture and not-too-sweet flavor.

The sugar high, however, lasted until the check hit the rustic wood table. Dinner for four on my second visit was dangerously close to the $200 mark — without tax, tip or booze. Not astronomical, but hardly economical, considering the missteps. (The salt-crusted fish accounted for a large portion of that bill.) Next time I'll focus on the pizza, pasta and smaller dishes. And there should be a next time — Zio Cecio still has some kinks to work out, but it's worth another visit.

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21 comments
bamustgo
bamustgo

Great review. My spin on this spot. Nice attractive and inviting ambience. Be carefull on a cool evening about sitting in the covered patio. It was pretty chilly and drafty for us. All in all quite good but some problems.

One awesome thing about this place is they have a $20.00 corkage fee policy. Bring in a monster and add $20.00 to the tab. Very good idea for attracting wine nerds. Down side to wine service, the glasses are terrible for enjoying fine wine.

So I guess they don't serve bread?

We shared a Caprese salad. Know it is out of season but good hot house maters are available. These were average at best for what is available. There was maybe a thimble of ovile oil and no salt on the salad. Served with two tiny basil leaves. I get great basil in the winter at CM so whats the deal on that? Use arugala if you can't find basil. The bufalo cheese was incredible. So why mess it up?

We split a special as an appetizer. Grilled sardines. They were stupid good. I mean so spot on you thought you could be sitting on the Med. Just perfect in every way. Like an Italian, he knows his away around sardines. This meal was worth it just to get that dish.

We split a pasta course, and by the way, they are happy to do it. That makes me feel welcome. Basic spaghetti pasta with tomatoes and basil. Pretty good but again stengy with that basil. Needed more kick though and a nice drizzle of oil to make it smile would have been a good idea. I would rather have a sour sheep milk peccorino rather than the parm on the dish. Pec would seem more Sardinian.

Then we split the roast pig. I was blown away by how good that was. Served some shoulder meat and part of the rack and some of the delicious crispy skin. It was moist and tender as billed. Not a small portion but not a lot either. I could have hit a little more of that. It was a winner and served with some under seasoned roasted potato's.

We shared a piece of the cheescake they make there and thought it was one of, if not the best version of that dish we had ever tasted. Flawless and a nice piece for two to share.

So, hits and misses. Don't be shy with the sea salt or olive oil boys and I would kick up those wine glasses a notch of two. If I bought that $398.00 bottle of Sasaccia and they brought me those glasses, I would tell them to take it back.

bamustgo
bamustgo

Great review. My spin on this spot. Nice attractive and inviting ambience. Be carefull on a cool evening about sitting in the covered patio. It was pretty chilly and drafty for us. All in all quite good but some problems.

One awesome thing about this place is they have a $20.00 corkage fee policy. Bring in a monster and add $20.00 to the tab. Very good idea for attracting wine nerds. Down side to wine service, the glasses are terrible for enjoying fine wine.

So I guess they don't serve bread?

We shared a Caprese salad. Know it is out of season but good hot house maters are available. These were average at best for what is available. There was maybe a thimble of ovile oil and no salt on the salad. Served with two tiny basil leaves. I get great basil in the winter at CM so whats the deal on that? Use arugala if you can't find basil. The bufalo cheese was incredible. So why mess it up?

We split a special as an appetizer. Grilled sardines. They were stupid good. I mean so spot on you thought you could be sitting on the Med. Just perfect in every way. Like an Italian, he knows his away around sardines. This meal was worth it just to get that dish.

We split a pasta course, and by the way, they are happy to do it. That makes me feel welcome. Basic spaghetti pasta with tomatoes and basil. Pretty good but again stengy with that basil. Needed more kick though and a nice drizzle of oil to make it smile would have been a good idea. I would rather have a sour sheep milk peccorino rather than the parm on the dish. Pec would seem more Sardinian.

Then we split the roast pig. I was blown away by how good that was. Served some shoulder meat and part of the rack and some of the delicious crispy skin. It was moist and tender as billed. Not a small portion but not a lot either. I could have hit a little more of that. It was a winner and served with some under seasoned roasted potato's.

We shared a piece of the cheescake they make there and thought it was one of, if not the best version of that dish we had ever tasted. Flawless and a nice piece for two to share.

So, hits and misses. Don't be shy with the sea salt or olive oil boys and I would kick up those wine glasses a notch of two. If I bought that $398.00 bottle of Sasaccia and they brought me those glasses, I would tell them to take it back.

bamustgo
bamustgo

Great review. My spin on this spot. Nice attractive and inviting ambience. Be carefull on a cool evening about sitting in the covered patio. It was pretty chilly and drafty for us. All in all quite good but some problems.

One awesome thing about this place is they have a $20.00 corkage fee policy. Bring in a monster and add $20.00 to the tab. Very good idea for attracting wine nerds. Down side to wine service, the glasses are terrible for enjoying fine wine.

So I guess they don't serve bread?

We shared a Caprese salad. Know it is out of season but good hot house maters are available. These were average at best for what is available. There was maybe a thimble of ovile oil and no salt on the salad. Served with two tiny basil leaves. I get great basil in the winter at CM so whats the deal on that? Use arugala if you can't find basil. The bufalo cheese was incredible. So why mess it up?

We split a special as an appetizer. Grilled sardines. They were stupid good. I mean so spot on you thought you could be sitting on the Med. Just perfect in every way. Like an Italian, he knows his away around sardines. This meal was worth it just to get that dish.

We split a pasta course, and by the way, they are happy to do it. That makes me feel welcome. Basic spaghetti pasta with tomatoes and basil. Pretty good but again stengy with that basil. Needed more kick though and a nice drizzle of oil to make it smile would have been a good idea. I would rather have a sour sheep milk peccorino rather than the parm on the dish. Pec would seem more Sardinian.

Then we split the roast pig. I was blown away by how good that was. Served some shoulder meat and part of the rack and some of the delicious crispy skin. It was moist and tender as billed. Not a small portion but not a lot either. I could have hit a little more of that. It was a winner and served with some under seasoned roasted potato's.

We shared a piece of the cheescake they make there and thought it was one of, if not the best version of that dish we had ever tasted. Flawless and a nice piece for two to share.

So, hits and misses. Don't be shy with the sea salt or olive oil boys and I would kick up those wine glasses a notch of two. If I bought that $398.00 bottle of Sasaccia and they brought me those glasses, I would tell them to take it back.

bamustgo
bamustgo

Great review. My spin on this spot. Nice attractive and inviting ambience. Be carefull on a cool evening about sitting in the covered patio. It was pretty chilly and drafty for us. All in all quite good but some problems.

One awesome thing about this place is they have a $20.00 corkage fee policy. Bring in a monster and add $20.00 to the tab. Very good idea for attracting wine nerds. Down side to wine service, the glasses are terrible for enjoying fine wine.

So I guess they don't serve bread?

We shared a Caprese salad. Know it is out of season but good hot house maters are available. These were average at best for what is available. There was maybe a thimble of ovile oil and no salt on the salad. Served with two tiny basil leaves. I get great basil in the winter at CM so whats the deal on that? Use arugala if you can't find basil. The bufalo cheese was incredible. So why mess it up?

We split a special as an appetizer. Grilled sardines. They were stupid good. I mean so spot on you thought you could be sitting on the Med. Just perfect in every way. Like an Italian, he knows his away around sardines. This meal was worth it just to get that dish.

We split a pasta course, and by the way, they are happy to do it. That makes me feel welcome. Basic spaghetti pasta with tomatoes and basil. Pretty good but again stengy with that basil. Needed more kick though and a nice drizzle of oil to make it smile would have been a good idea. I would rather have a sour sheep milk peccorino rather than the parm on the dish. Pec would seem more Sardinian.

Then we split the roast pig. I was blown away by how good that was. Served some shoulder meat and part of the rack and some of the delicious crispy skin. It was moist and tender as billed. Not a small portion but not a lot either. I could have hit a little more of that. It was a winner and served with some under seasoned roasted potato's.

We shared a piece of the cheescake they make there and thought it was one of, if not the best version of that dish we had ever tasted. Flawless and a nice piece for two to share.

So, hits and misses. Don't be shy with the sea salt or olive oil boys and I would kick up those wine glasses a notch of two. If I bought that $398.00 bottle of Sasaccia and they brought me those glasses, I would tell them to take it back.

Newo
Newo

I've enjoyed dining at Zio Cecio a few times. I was instantly struck by the intimate feel of the place --it really has heart. From the warm colors and photography to the open lay out of the kitchen you get the sense that you're about to enjoy a real, traditional, Sardinian meal. The food does not disappoint this expectation. My personal favorite is the Mezzeluna Alla Fonduta Di Pistacchio...I could easily eat this every time I come here.

Beda
Beda

No one EVER comments on Scott's reviews at this site, so I'm highly suspicious of the extraordinarily high number of comments praising everything about the place.

SusanG.
SusanG.

What an amazing place in our neighborhood! I have tried Zio Cecio many times since they opened and every experience there was great! I love all carpaccio on the menu, so light and flavorful. The pasta is like what I tasted in Italy, fresh and light. The salt crusted Branzino I tried was fantastic and I thought the price (i think it was around $32)for it was actually reasonable for an entire fish which I have had it more expensive from other places and did not taste as good. My pick for dessert is their cheese cake! Out of this world!

Van
Van

Zio Cecio took over the spot that was previously Cafe Italia. Patry's spot is further down the street.

YO YO
YO YO

OMG!!! Finally, The best Italian food. I saw it driving by and said "what is going on there". Saw that it was opened. Went the next day day with some friends and it was amazing. The tiramasu was the best i have ever had, it was like silk. Going back to eat, eat, eat, and then eat.

Shane Weeks
Shane Weeks

Love the atmosphere! Cozy, intimate and charming. Oh yeah, and the food is delicious as well! Perfect addition to the neighborhood. The staff is friendly and the two times I have been a manager has stopped by my table to ensure service. Their cocktail with Sherry and Limoncello is definitely worth trying!

MatiMall
MatiMall

My friends took me for my birthday to this charming neighborhood restaurant serves straight-ahead Italian cuisine and I love it!!.The sea food ravioli is out of this world. If you're in the mood for risotto, try their funghi portini rizzoto and you'll be glad you did! The flavorful Osso buco also makes a perfect meal for a cold night! I am so happy we got to share and try few different dishes, all amazing,Save room for desert because the Tiramisu is the creamiest you'll ever taste outside of Italy, and sorbets are perfection! Wines are also reasonably priced ! If you are looking for a cozy place where the food is great, everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came, Zio Cecio is it!!!

Jbrifkin
Jbrifkin

We finally have a "real" Italian restaurant in Dallas. Zio Cecio has it all...amazing food, incredible ambiance, excellent service. I have eaten there several times and have always had a wonderful dining experience. If you have never been, go tonight! You will love it.

Melvala28
Melvala28

i love it. the concept is great and the food is wonderful. my husband and i ate there and we will now be regulars there. the atmosphere is wonderful and he staff is so friendly.

Cg_s_girl
Cg_s_girl

My husband and I recently dined at Zio...it was absolutely delicious!  Upon entry, we were delighted by the decor and the decadent aromas wafting from the kitchen. We began with the Caprese salads and then moved onto the Carpacci--it was truly melt in your mouth. Our mains consisted of the two ravioli dishes on the menu (the potato & mint filled ravioli was so light and flavorful). Finally, we wrapped our meals with the Tiramisu & Creme Brûlée--both deserts were equally divine. I know that we will be back again & again.  

Sally Munez
Sally Munez

After living in Dallas for 8 years, my wife and I have been to several Italian restaurants and have yet to find one that provides exceptional service and a tasty product at a reasonable price. Luckily, last week a couple asked us to join them for dinner at Zio Cecio and we agreed to tagalong. This place exceeded all of our expectations. All the food tasted extremely fresh and homemade; from the Porcini mushroom risotto to the tiramisu.

The ambience is also perfect. Just what we were looking for. Small, intimate and truly Italian. Three cheers for the Chef, as we will be sure to frequent Zio Cecio.

Frank Thalius
Frank Thalius

My wife and I dinned here the other night. What an amazing experience, I felt like I was taken beck to our honey moon in Italy. The service was impeccable and well trained. We had the sea scallop Carpaccio to start and it was mouthwatering, we loved the accent of the tomatoes and the micro greens. Followed was the mussel antipasti which we quickly cleaned the bowl with the accompanying bread. I had the half-moon seafood filled ravioli and she had the spaghetti, we both shared a risotto (with asparagus and cheese). We finished the evening with a lemon sponge cake and our waiter recommended the Mirto which was liquor prepared from Myrtle berries, what a fairy tale ending. I have paid triple the price of this dinner and left much more unsatisfied, the food at Zio’s has passion and love expressed with ever hint of seasoning and preparation. Congrats to you Francesco! We will see you soon!

Tammybuczkowski
Tammybuczkowski

While I cannot attest to the sea-crusted fish, I did try the tuscan style rib eye and it was amazing!!!! My daughter had the raviolis which she enjoyed, but I am not a huge pasta fan so I opted for the steak. Which I am glad I did. MMMMMMMM!

Dale
Dale

My wife fell in love with this place when I took her. It has an intimate atmosphere, delicious food and an extensive wine selection. We had the squid ink spaghetti with fresh clams and carbonara for entrees, as well as the mussels for an appetizer. We left very satisfied and cannot wait for our next night out at Zio!

Jessica
Jessica

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