Cucina Neighborhood Italian, the Preston Center red-sauce restaurant that operated in the former Mi Piaci space, has closed. The restaurant opened in early 2014 after the months-long tenure of its predecessor, but was unable to capture the heart of neighborhood locals. Probably because it was bad.
The cavernous restaurant, which I reviewed just last month, spanned two levels and two dining rooms, with a sizable patio that faced Preston Road. The large dining room made the place feel hopelessly empty, and the sprawling menu didn't help.
Cucina embraced all the Italian American classic dishes, echoing Campisi's, Scalini's and other restaurants that have operated in Dallas for decades. They also offered dishes that had no business in an Italian restaurant, including nachos and cheeseburgers.
The classic dishes weren't done nearly as well the mainstay Italian restaurants. Rubbery meatballs, soggy cutlets and runny pasta dishes were a letdown, and dessert only got worse.
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Three restaurants have operated at the address in the past few years, and all three have failed quickly. Ocho Kitchen and Cocktails closed in mid 2013 after a failed attempt at a taco/nightclub concept. Whoever steps up to a lease next should take a careful look at how they use all that space.