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[DFW] Best traditional Italian food?

I have a dilemma - I hope you Chowhounds can help!

My grandparents are coming into town from California. Their favorite food is Italian, but every place I've tried to bring them in the past few years has been too eclectic for them.

Ideally, I'd like to find a place that's quiet, and has all the old standards (MUST have Veal) - but very well done, and VERY attentive service (My grandmother will be much more accepting of a restaurant if she is treated like a queen).

I'd like it to be a bit fancier than "Two Guys from Italy", but I don't want to break the bank either since this will be a large group (so no Bice). I'm open to a chain as long as it's good.

They used to love Il Sorrento, so if there are any places similar, that would be ideal.

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  1. Do you have a location preference? What about Sweet Basil in far north Dallas, Midway @ Trinity Mills? I've eaten there a couple of times, service is very polite and it has a bit of an old fashioned feel.

    You can see a menu on their website: http://www.sweetbasilitalian.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: donnaaries

      My father is in Plano and I live around the 35/Oaklawn area - so anywhere around or between the two areas will work.

      I checked out the Sweet Basil website - they look a bit too casual for the occasion.

    2. What about Daniele on Oak Lawn? Its a very pretty restaurant and they are extremely attentive. I would suggest trying to look them up on here. They have some good reviews.

      1 Reply
      1. re: simply_victoria

        I've considered Daniele - mainly because I'd like to try it. I checked the menu - it's too far removed from the Italian that they would expect. Also, the prices are a bit too high for this occasion.

      2. Being part Italian myslef hasn't helped me much in finding Dallas restos like you describe but here goes:

        I haven't been to this place yet but I've read nothing but good things about it and it's run by someone who knows what he's doing.
        Alessio's il Ristorante
        4801 Bryan St

        Good food and service in a nice room. It plays to the Parkie crowd and has been in business for a long time, always a good sign.
        Il Sole
        4514 Travis St., Suite 201

        I've not been to this place but it looks like it's got potential.
        Grotto Ristorante
        2222 McKinney Ave

        Never had a bad meal here and the service has always been good but it can be busy and a little noisy.
        Penne Pomodoro
        11661 Preston Road

        Been here twice recently and it's still a good dining experience with that Lower Greenville vibe.
        Terilli's Restaurant
        2815 Greenville Ave

        Places to avoid: Buca di Peppo, Cafe Italia, Campisi's, Carrabba's, Dolce Oliva, Nero's, Prego

        3 Replies
        1. re: Scagnetti

          I would avoid the Grotto. It is an Italian version of Landry's Seafood. Out of the previous selections I would choose Alessio's. The others are very ordinary. What about Acadoro Pomodoro, Taverna or Adelmo's?

          1. re: sl1

            What did you eat when you went to Grotto and what did you not like about it?

            The OP IS looking for ORDINARY (not mediocre) Italian food and if they loved Il Sorrento, they certainly wouldn't have a problem with the places I suggested, especially Il Sole.

            1. re: Scagnetti

              Definitely agree to avoiding Campisi's, I think it's quite overpriced too.

              What do you guys think about Siciliano's in Richardson? It's on Buckingham and Shiloh.

        2. Bellini's, on congress right off oak lawn, has all of the things you need. once you get past the exterior, it's quite nice. haven't been there in a couple of years, but as i recall, they make their own complimentary house garlic bread.


          1. I've had some excellent meals at Ferrari's in Addison: http://www.ferrarisrestaurant.com/

            And the service has always been friendly. I even got to hang out in the kitchen once!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Raynickben

              Yes, a bit north, but good one RNB.


            2. Nicola's Ristorante on Legacy Drive in Plano has some first class Italian food, but it might be a little more pricey than you want. Entrees are $20-$30. The pasta is home made and the veal is great. I had a veal milanese--a breaded flattened veal chop topped with arugula and tomatoes--that was the best I've had since I stopped going to Mi Piaci (way to pricey).

              I'd recommed it. Sit outsdie if the weather holds. It's sort of a sanitized version of what sidewalk dining is like (New York by Walt Disney) but pleasant.

              1 Reply
              1. re: btceo

                i agree that nicola is a good place, but don't you think that maybe it's too high-end, too expensive, too crowded, too noisy, too plano, too trendy for what Webra was requesting? and not really the "traditional" she was looking for. it seems like she's looking for more of an old-school place

              2. Thank you all for your help - this is turning out to be harder than I expected!

                Has anyone tried Aboca's Italian Grill or La Paesana?

                Based on the menus I've looked at, I'm thinking that the following places might work best:

                Alessio's il Ristorante

                Maybe Grotto - the menu has all the traditional stuff, just worried about how loud and chaotic it may be.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Webra1

                  I'd vote for Alessio's from that list. And teegee is probably right. But the food is good at Nicola's.

                  1. re: Webra1

                    aboca's & la paesana are pretty similar, food-wise. aboca has good food (and great doughy/crusty complimentary bread); but it can be understaffed and so service is not consistent. but aboca is a lot cheaper than la paesana which, for me, given what they're serving, seems a little high.

                    i like the food at alessio's but 1. they give a (rather funky) raw-vegetable appetizer that seems to be complimentary and then CHARGE for it and 2. the service is great if alessio knows you but not reliable if he doesn't. since you said service is important...

                    siciliano's, to me, is not bad but a bit "downscale". also: ain't it in garland?

                    i'll just mention bellini's again, which is somewhat undiscovered but good nonetheless; and agree that ferrari's would work, too. both could handle a large group, perhaps better than alessio's...

                  2. My husband and I went to Bellini's the other night. I really wanted to like it, especially since it's so close to our house.

                    It started off well. The service was attentive and friendly. The bread was hot out the oven and was covered in herb butter with lots of real minced garlic. They give you a plate of oil with herbs to dip the bread in. It was very hard to stop eating it. The salads were very cold and fresh.

                    He ordered the Lasagna. I ordered a shrimp & mushroom stuffed puff pastry appetizer and had it as an entree.

                    His Lasagna was very unusual. It was white, with no tomato sauce on it. It was very flat, maybe three short layers, and took up the entire plate. The filling was mostly ricotta with a small amount of meat mixed in with it. Around the lasagna was a small amount of cream-based roasted tomato sauce that was very salty and didn't have a lot of tomato flavor.

                    My appetizer came with three large shrimp on top of a pastry puff filled with fresh spinach and mushrooms with cream sauce. The filling was way to salty for me, as was the tomato sauce served around it. It was the same sauce served with my husband's lasagna.

                    For dessert, my husband had the chocolate covered cannolli. It was good, but didn't have the freshness that I would have expected.

                    We may try it again in the future - maybe it was an off night or we just didn't order the right entrees.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Webra1

                      well thanks for the feedback. it's been a couple of yrs since i visited. it's good you scouted it first. how about the price and service? ("cheap" and "good", i hope.)

                    2. What you ordered is pretty straightforward so I doubt you can attribute this experience to an "off night".

                      Another Dallas Italian resto down in flames. I've quit trying although I am going to go to Alessio's because of the two excellent reviews in the DMN and the Dallas Observer.

                      1. Has anyone tried Buggati's Ristorante? Please let me know what you think about the food and atmosphere. Thanks!

                        1. I didn't like Bellini's at all either.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: snatex

                            Now to be fair, Bellini's wasn't too bad (last trip was a few months back), but it's no Daniele. But then, the mobster-like exterior kinda says it all.


                            1. re: TexasToast

                              I've always loved Terilli's, especially sitting on the porch at the Greenville location

                          2. teegee - The service was good. The prices were reasonable. Here's the menu with prices: http://www.belliniscafe.com/dinner.nxg

                            Scagnetti - I guess by "off" night, I mean that maybe the sauce wouldn't have been as salty on another night.