First Look

Osteria Il Muro Puts Italy on Denton's Map

Chef Scott Girling
Chef Scott Girling Sean Welch
Osteria Il Muro in Denton is a little Italian restaurant that specializes in house-made everything — from cured meats to fresh hand-rolled pasta to semifreddo. The place seats just 24 diners, by reservation only, and the one-page menu can change daily, based on seasons and the mood of chef and owner Scott Girling.

Girling met his wife in Denton, where they attended school before moving to Italy. There, he worked in kitchens and built his culinary resume. They couldn’t stay away forever, and Denton was dear to their hearts, so once they returned and found a quaint 80-year-old home off the beaten path, the plan was set.

While Girling’s culinary expertise is rooted in the province of Catanzaro in Calabria, each time he returns to visit, he reaches out to friends throughout various regions of the country to work and learn more to represent Italy from top to bottom.

We’ve made the 50-minute trek to the restaurant twice and are ready to make our next reservation.

Standout dishes on the menu include the creste di gallo, or cockscomb, which is the shape of the handmade pasta. It's paired with Calabrian sausage, dandelion greens, raisins, pistachio and pecorino ($27). This dish is bright and packed with flavor and left us recounting each bite on the drive home.

On both visits, we were compelled to finish the fresh baked focaccia ($10) rather than save it as directed by our server.

The showstopper on our second visit was the spring-influenced mafalde pasta with pesto, asparagus, peas, morels and succulent pancetta ($28).
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Chicken liver mousse with fruit, pistachio and grilled bread.
Sean Welch
A chicken liver mousse ($13) spread across the charred bread was dreamy.

Girling’s passion is shown through both the food and the service. On both visits we had the same server, who was able to recite the menu from top to bottom.
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House-made semifreddo with macerated strawberries and candied pistachios
Sean Welch
Four desserts round out the menu, including a chocolate budino, plum crostata, vanilla bean semifreddo with strawberries and candied pistachio, and, lastly, affogato — fresh espresso over semifreddo.

The Italian wine list includes sparkling, whites and reds by the glass ($11 to $17) or by the bottle ($39 to $60). There are eight bottles on a reserve list that range from a Le Fonti chianti ($70) to a Torre Mastio Amarone DOCG for $125.

August and September reservations opened on July 18.

Osteria Il Muro, 311 W. Congress St., Denton; 5-10 p.m., Wednesday – Sunday. Reservations only.
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