Occasionally, a weird, almost unbelievable piece of food news crosses our desk at this here food blog. Usually, it involves John Tesar. This time, though, it involves an old-school steakhouse in North Dallas and a flashy young chef making a name for himself in Uptown. Usually these twain shall never meet (meat?), but now that Chef Nick Amoriello is making his way to the kitchen at Sevy's Grill, we're not exactly sure which direction is up anymore.
SideDish first reported the news of Amoriello's move to Sevy's, and we had to check our calendars to make sure that it wasn't already April Fools Day. My first thought was "THAT Sevy's?" The very same Sevy's that unironically serves an iceberg wedge salad with bleu cheese and bacon and fried calamari? Sure enough, we were not being pranked. This is actually happening.
Generally, a chef of Amoriello's pedigree -- he studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and has worked in some of Dallas' best kitchens -- wouldn't be caught dead taking a job at a restaurant that prides itself on being traditional, unchanging, and always reliable. At his last job, at So & So's, Amoriello was serving up fried chicken skins and making tartare with quail eggs.
And his food was remarkably well received. Most people wanted to discard So & So's as another place to get drunk in Uptown, but it reliably turned out good and interesting food, and the critics agreed. Even the ever-persnickety Leslie Brenner praised Amoriello's food, saying that it was "the last place in town I expected to find such compelling victuals." (If you know what victuals means, let us know.)
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In fact, it was at So & So's where Sevy's owner Jim Severson first took notice of Amoriello's talent. Amoriello told SideDish that the Seversons had dined at the restaurant a few times without his knowledge, and then began to talk about how he could revamp the menu at Sevy's as the kitchen's first major hire in almost two decades years. No details on how the menu has changed have been released just yet, which makes sense considering that Amoriello just took over the kitchen on March 30.
What doesn't make much sense, though, is how Amoriello plans to grow as a culinarian and satisfy a clientele that isn't really interested in a whole lot of change. The people who dine at Sevy's Grill don't go there because it is interesting, they go because they know that they can get the New York strip steak and it is going to taste exactly as it did the last time they went. There is comfort in consistency, and the transition into this new and improved menu could be a little rough if Amoriello isn't able to convince his younger, foodier clientele to go north.
Still, though, this could be one of the most exciting restaurant developments of the year. It isn't often that restaurants that have been successful for nearly two decades decide to completely flip the script. If the clientele is supportive of Amoriello's creativity, we could see some really incredible cuisine. Sevy's has always focused on fresh, great ingredients, and there is no telling what a chef like Amoriello will be able to do with the best dry-aged beef, local cheeses, and other seasonal deliciousness.
According to a post on Sevy's Grill's Facebook page, Amoriello's first task will be designing a menu for the restaurant's April wine dinner. This may seem like a small job, but Sevy's has cultivated a small-but-dedicated group of diners that call these wine dinners the best in town. It remains to be seen whether or not Amoriello's style will fit with the tradition of Sevy's, but we're really excited to see what he's going to do here. If anything, it's going to be really interesting.