When Americano, the newest restaurant at The Joule hotel, opened in October, it replaced Charlie Palmer. Palmer's departure signaled a shift: The space was transformed from a traditional, buttoned-up steakhouse to a relaxed, hip eatery that oozes style. The walls and ceiling are painted a brilliant shade of green, save for plywood accents. Geometric stools and pops of orange and blue imbue the space with an aggressively youthful feel.
Americano's modern Italian focus is the brainchild of executive chef Matt Ford, and his brunch menu follows the same ethos as the restaurant's redesign.
At first glance, the nine brunch options do not sound particularly enthralling: breakfast pizza ($15), ciabatta French toast ($12) and San Marzano baked eggs ($12) seem less captivating against the backdrop of Americano's hipper-than-thou space. But dishes on the page and dishes on the plate are two entirely different matters, as proved during a recent visit.
The aforementioned breakfast pizza is much more than its descriptors of "sausage gravy, farm egg, potatoes" would suggest. A Neapolitan-style crust with plenty of chew, yeasty aroma and light, bubbly cornicione (the outermost crust) plays host to a smorgasbord of American breakfast favorites. A light application of gravy acts as the sauce — so light, in fact, that it almost disappears into the crust. But not quite; it's there and it's delicious and oh-so savory. Scrambled eggs, sausage and red pepper dot the surface, which is covered by threads of golden fried potatoes. The latter adds some nice textural variation to this not-so-deep dish, which successfully combines the familiar tastes of the a.m. in a way that is both surprisingly nuanced and satisfying.
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In Mexico it's a sandwich, in Spain it's a cake and in Italy, the torta is a savory, double-crust pie that can be filled to your heart's desire with meats, cheeses and vegetables. Americano's version, the torta rustica ($14), combines classic Italian flavors into a masterful slab of baked engineering. The filling of roasted red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, prosciutto, provolone and eggs is held by flaky, golden-brown pastry. The accompanying side salad is no mere afterthought: an acidic, slightly sweet vinaigrette dresses a deliciously simple array of field greens and olives.
A quick aside: As we rapidly approach the height of PBS (patio brunching season), Americano's allure only increases. A slice of pie or wedge of torta tastes all the better when eaten with the sun on your face and the city street in full view. Imbibing is also encouraged, whether in the form of a few café Americanos (a Campari and cold brew coffee cocktail, $12) or a nice, light Aperol Spritz (Prosecco and soda, $12).
So maybe it is all in my head. A more likely possibility, however, is that Americano's brunch, with its accessible interpretations of modern Italian cuisine, will prove a welcomed addition to Dallas' rotation. Let PBS begin.
Americano, 1530 Main St.