From Barfly To Pizza Pie: David Pedack Opens Urbino
David Pedack is a live wire. Handsome, boyish and unpredictable, he's the guy who knows everyone, the guy who can really work a room.
We'd expect nothing less, given his many years behind-the-scenes (or behind the bar) on the Dallas nightlife circuit. But everyone's gotta grow up sometime. In 2008, the 43-year-old veteran of the Samba Room and Nikita--among other local hot spots--settled in at the Blue Collar Bar on Henderson Avenue. His place, his rules, low-key by design.
Just this week, Pedack took another step away from glitz and glam with the opening of Urbino Pizza e Pasta, his casual new Italian eatery right up the street from Blue Collar. Between the communal picnic tables and the pop art posters on the wall, Urbino is a world away from hard doors, velvet ropes and bottle service. That's not to say, however, that Pedack isn't still dealing with more than a few high-maintenance clients...
On paying his dues: "My career in the restaurant business started out by doing a coffee shop--like pre-Starbucks, 1994. I did a coffee shop in the Parks Mall in Arlington called Divine Cappuccino, and from there I dabbled in retail and then my first real exposure to food and beverage in Dallas was opening up the Samba Room. At the time, I just came in as a bartender, became the bar manager, and later on was recruited to be kind of the beverage director--without the title--but doing that job for Royce Ring, who was my mentor."
On what turns him on:"I think it turns me on most to introduce brand-new products. Divine Cappuccino was definitely that, Samba Room was definitely that. Samba Room was the first bar, maybe this side of the Mississippi, that did the mojito...now it's a staple drink all over the United States."
On what's new about Urbino:"I still thought there was a niche to fill [on Henderson Avenue]. God bless Louie's--Louie's is an institution. I can only hope to be anywhere close to what they're doing...Fireside Pies, tremendous place. Perfectly executed...But neither place delivers. As all these new apartment complexes come online behind me, I really wanna be that local neighborhood place you can call up and they'll zap to your house in an electric car."
...except maybe the name: "Pure accident...My name is definitely different--it's spelled different."
On the menu:"I'm not going to say this menu was easy to develop, but I think it was a lot easier because the food is pure and simple...I think the ingredients kind of speak for themselves."
On why he won't deliver everything:"There's a flat bread pizza that we do that I just can't deliver. If you don't consume it within 10 minutes of coming out of the wood-burning oven, I don't really feel like the quality is good enough for 30 minutes later...We have a 16" round traditional Brooklyn-style pizza that's our delivery model pizza."
On his toughest critics:"I love kids...when we first opened up, it was important for me to go up to every little kid in the room and ask, 'Hey, did you like that pizza?', because it's real, it's honest...they're not gonna try to tell you something just to make you feel good. If the kids enjoy it and the kids like it and the kids eat it, for the most part, it's gonna be okay."
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Dallas dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.