First Look: Urbino Pizza e Pasta

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Urbino starts out with two strikes against it. First off, there's the name. Oh, Urbino's cute and all--but the third incarnation of Urbano Café sits just a mile away. (That's Urbano with an "A", not Urbino with an "I". ) There's also a new pizza joint in Plano called Urban Crust, and we spied a seedy-looking nightclub around the corner from Urbino called Ritmo Urbano.

Oh, and don't forget Urban Market and Café downtown on Jackson Street.

Then there's the fact that Urbino opened in an area already known for decent pizza. Nearby neighbors Fireside Pies and Louie's each turn out popular versions with loyal followings. Take a look around Urbino's shopping center at 2323 North Henderson, however, and you'll also see Natsumi and Sushi Axiom, two other relatively new entries doing well despite stiff competition in their categories. So maybe we'll call it one and a half strikes.

And yet, Urbino delivers.

In fact, that's the key: Urbino delivers. With many new apartment buildings going up a stone's throw away, Urbino's banking on the fact that it's the only non-chain pizza delivery option in the area.

But a stylish yet casual dining room, featuring a well-appointed bar and comely waitstaff means dining in is also a treat. So's the food, for the most part.

We sampled flatbread pizza, wild mushroom ravioli, panzanilla salad and a chicken panini on recent visits and despite a few quibbles, all were solid and satisfying. The pizza gets its crisp bite from a "top secret" ingredient (it's flax seed, but you didn't hear it from us), and locally-sourced greens in entrée and side salads are dressed with a well-balanced sweet and tangy balsamic vinaigrette.

Attention to detail seems to be the common thread at Urbino, right down to the red cloth napkins and trendy, over-sized plates.

Sure, we might have liked a little more feta on a certain salad, and the chicken on one visit was definitely overdone, but we still left with a smile (and some interesting body piercing trivia, thanks to our outgoing server).

The only challenge would be meeting someone at this great new neighborhood restaurant, seeing as they could wind up around the corner or down the street instead. Might be worth the effort tomorrow night, though, when Urbino celebrates its official grand opening with free pizza, pasta and cocktails beginning at 7 p.m.

A word to the wise? Mapquest.

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