First Look

Sprezza Brings a Playful "Roman Tavern" to the Burgeoning Maple Avenue Dining District

From the outside, Sprezza looks homey — as in, it almost looks like someone's house, complete with a breezy front porch. Step into the new Oak Lawn eatery during daylight hours and you'll find an interior that is bright and open, a sea of pale grey, tan and white. Every design touch from the chairs to the stemware balances precariously between delicate and modern. 

Sprezza, a new "Roman tavern" from Julian Barsotti (Nonna, Carbone’s), is the second step for the Maple Avenue Dining District, a $3.5-million development from Crow Holdings that so far has given Dallas 18th & Vine, the nearby Kansas City-style barbecue spot with live jazz and an upscale feel. Much like 18th & Vine, Sprezza feels bright, airy, fresh — and though it doesn't serve the cheapest cuisine in Dallas, it's certainly not outlandish with dishes ranging from $11-$26. 
The interior is sleek but not stuffy. Along with tables and booths, there is plenty of bar seating that enables you to watch the bartenders or the wide-open kitchen. In the corner near the espresso machine, a turntable and a stack of records — Ray Charles sitting on top — is perched beneath a white orchid. The endless windows make the space feel light and pleasant, certainly making this a happy hour contender for nearby Oak Lawn and Uptown office workers. The music — a playful mix of retro soul and R&B with dancey current pop music — reinforces the idea that Sprezza doesn't take itself too seriously.

The dinner menu is broken up into handy categories where everything is priced the same: spuntini (snacks/bites) are $11, antipasti (appetizers/hors d'oeuvres) are $14, stagioni (seasonal) dishes are $14, pizzas are $16 and traditional pasta dishes $17. Under the spuntini menu, don't skip the squash blossoms, featuring this light flower stuffed with mozzarella and swimming in an anchovy tomato sauce. There's a lot to explore on this not-so-massive menu, one that balances classically heavy Italian dishes with light bites. There's a robust Italian wine list broken up by price-per-bottle ($45-$120) and a small menu of three Italian beers. There's also a playful little $12 cocktail menu featuring a Negroni Blanco, the summer-ready Rossini (strawberry purée and Prosecco) and a light, herbal cocktail called the Di Rosmarino, made with rosemary-infused gin, maraschino, Pernod, egg white and bitters. 

A fun touch at this bar: When the bartender mixed up my cocktail, what didn't fit into the glass was served in a smaller iced glass along with the drink, which made this cocktail feel more like 1.5 cocktails. 
The Maple Avenue Dining District may only have a couple restaurants in its roster, but what is up and running on this corner of Oak Lawn is so far exceeding expectations. So far, Sprezza feels like a playful, fun extension of Barsotti's other Italian food concepts, and the gorgeous interior should bode well with the neighboring Design District. 

Sprezza, 4010 Maple Ave.
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Beth Rankin is an Ohio native and Cicerone-certified beer server who specializes in social media, food and drink, travel and news reporting. Her belief system revolves around the significance of Topo Chico, the refusal to eat crawfish out of season and the importance of local and regional foodways.
Contact: Beth Rankin