First Look

First Look: Dea Brings a Fresh Look to Coastal Italian Dining

Lynae Fearing's discovery from the isle of Capri: rigatoni Genovese, with alla Genovese, cherry tomatoes, Calabrian chili and Grana Padano.
Lynae Fearing's discovery from the isle of Capri: rigatoni Genovese, with alla Genovese, cherry tomatoes, Calabrian chili and Grana Padano. Hank Vaughn
What do the spouses of high-profile, world-renowned chefs do in their spare time? Well, if you’re Lynae Fearing (whose ex-husband is Dean) and Tracy Rathbun (husband, Kent), you form FAR Hospitality and open Shinsei and Lovers Seafood and Market.

Roman Murphy had been the executive chef at Lovers Seafood but now he's found a new home at FAR's latest venture, Dea, a fine-dining Italian restaurant. It's a spot that promises to "transport [you] to the European coast" and to “curate a culinary experience unlike any other.” This is accomplished by serving “transportive cuisine in an elegant setting,” drawing inspiration from places such as Palermo, Naples, Ibiza, Positano and Valencia.

Who could resist such a pedigree and culinary vision? We certainly couldn’t, and after seeing Dea mentioned in The Observer’s 8 New Dallas Restaurants We’re Excited About, we got … well, excited, and decided to try it out recently with a 7:30, mid-week reservation.

Parking is horrible, and the attached lot is valet only, so you have to go with that or else circle the neighborhood forever searching for that elusive spot that you can fit your car into. This is assuming you remember how to parallel park. We went with valet.
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A door with no name provides entry to Dea.
Hank Vaughn
The front door is unassuming. So much so that we at first didn’t know how to enter; there is no name or sign or logo, but we found our way in nonetheless, and after a short wait took our seats in the small but smartly decorated dining room. (Dea offers a chef’s table experience that is always fun).
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A couple of cocktails: a passione and a paparazzi.
Hank Vaughn
We started with cocktails, a paparazzi and a passione. The former consisted of Patron reposado, luxardo fino, marscapone, agave, lime and parsley. This was rich and creamy and elegantly presented. The passione was mixed with Ilegal mezcal, cherry herring, passionfruit and lime tajin. Both were refreshing as we perused the rest of the menu.
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Almost Nonna-worthy beef and pork meatballs.
Hank Vaughn
Constantly on the lookout for good bone marrow, we were glad to see it offered under the small plates section. But instead we went with the meatballs, as we like to try these at every new Italian place we visit as they are often a good barometer of the rest of the food. They came three to an order and were beef- and pork-based, with sugo, grated Grana Padano and fresh herbs. These were flavorful if not quite Nonna-worthy; the consistency was a bit too firm, but overall, it was a fine effort. Bonus points for calling the tomato sauce sugo as well. Thumbs up.

Though Dea offers steaks, we went with a couple of pastas for our mains. We knew we were going to order the rigatoni Genovese after seeing a great picture of it on social media (our photo is at top). During her travels to Capri, Lynae Fearing discovered this pasta and wanted to feature it on the menu. This had sauce alla Genovese, cherry tomatoes, Calabrian chili, Grana Padano and parsley and was a decent serving size for under $30. It was, perhaps, sauced on the light side, but that pleased half of our party.
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Casarecce arrabiata: braised octopus, arrabbiata, bone marrow and citrus bread crumbs.
Hank Vaughn
The other selection was casarecce arrabiata: tenderly braised octopus that still had a slight grilled flavor that we love, with casarecce in an arrabbiata tomato sauce, with bone marrow and citrus bread crumbs to top it all. Definitely yumsville — the only downside being we wanted more.
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Apple crostata: brown butter, salted caramel and gelato.
Hank Vaughn
The dolce selection was an apple crostata, prepared with brown butter, with a dollop of gelato garnished with salted caramel sauce served in a very warm little cast iron skillet. Two spoons and just enough.

The menu promises to be a seasonal changing affair, but Dea seems to be off to a good start. We look forward to sampling other items in the future as well as the separate upstairs bar area, parking permitting.

Dea, 7709 Inwood Road. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday – Thursday; 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
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Hank Vaughn is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing and overthinking his food and drink experiences, both good and bad, from his culinary journeys with his wife across North Texas and beyond.
Contact: Hank Vaughn

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