The greatest thing about Julian Barosotti's coming Oak Lawn restaurant is that nothing exists yet. Yes, a deal has been inked in the Maple Avenue Dining District with the Donohoe brothers who brought the Dram to Henderson Avenue. Yes, it will be loosely based on Roman fare, but that's about it. There isn't even a name yet. The entirety of the restaurant, every concept and every dish, is just a thought bouncing around the inside of Barsotti's olive oil-lubricated mind.
"I love thinking conceptually," Barsotti says.
And who doesn't? Who among us hasn't sat around with a glass of vino in their hand and daydreamed about their own restaurant, or how they'd change an existing restaurant space? The difference between Barsotti and the rest of us is he's ready to do the heavy lifting.
At Barsotti's first restaurant, Nonna, the menu dances around Italy, borrowing from various regions to create his own take on Italian cuisine. With his second restaurant, Carbone's, Barsotti approaches Italian American more literally. You'll find spaghetti and meatballs on the menu, some of the city's best sandwiches, and piped-to-order cannoli. Barsotti seems a little more focused at his third restaurant, though. "I love the idea of basing a concept off of a single region," he says, indicating he'll likely set his sights on Rome. He's hoping for a casual tavern space, with a large open kitchen with seats that lend a view of the action.
Oh, and a sizable bar. Campari, anyone?
The food will build on the casual motif. Barsotti envisions something like a "flour and water" menu, which will feature pizzas and pasta prominently. He'll serve Pizza al taglio, or pizza by the slice, which is typically served as a carryout or street food in Italy.
The pastas will be extruded onsite and stick to the Roman theme, but only in spirit. For instance, you might see a cacio e pepe or a pasta a la amatriciana on the menu, but expect it to be viewed through Barsotti's eyes with a new spin, so it works well here in Dallas.
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There could be a fresh cheese menu to get you warmed up. "I like the idea of making fresh cheese every day," he says, but don't expect much variety in the way of entrees on any given night. Barsotti is planning one secondi for each day as a special, for those who need some meat.
Altogether it sounds like a pretty solid Roman tavern is taking shape on Maple Avenue -- a casual place to grab an Americano or a Negroni before you tear into a pizza or a bowl of freshly made pasta. It sounds like a great spot, right?
So come on Julian, what's the name?
"Man, the name process is still ongoing," he said, hinting that he's close. "There's one that we like lately ... It will most likely be an Italian word."