Lovers Lane’s Zio Cecio recently celebrated their 6th anniversary, and while resident Sardinian Chef, Francesco Farris, doesn’t like to fix what isn’t broken, they’ve decided to add some new items to their menu to celebrate this milestone. We got to test out the new dishes along with wine pairings from Eroz Spinozzi Selections.
If you’ve never been, Zio Cecio is known for their upscale rustic Italian cuisine with Sardinian touches to each plate.
After some light finger food and a glass of prosecco, we sat down for the antipasti in true Italian fashion. First up: Carpaccio Di Manzo ai Copperi, which for non-Italian-speaking-folk is thinly sliced beef tenderloin turned in citrus and topped with parmigiano and capers.
Then, a Carpaccio Di Tonno Con Bottarga, which is fresh thinly sliced tuna served with shaves of bottarga. To finish this first course, we then had various cheese and meats paired with Simone Capecci Ciprea Pecorino, a light, crisp white wine.
New on the pasta and risotto menu, and beautifully paired with Picus, Rosso Piceno Superiore (an Italian red made up of 60% Montepulciano, 40% Sangiovese):
Gnochetti Sardi al Cinghiale, a Sardinian “tear drop” pasta made with a wild boar ragu.
Bucatini del Gennargentu, hollow pasta made with smoked pancetta, caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes in a zesty tomato sauce.
As for the meat and fish course, you can now find Mailetto Ai Mirto, a Sardinian style suckling pig roasted in their wood burning oven on myrtle leaves, on their menu. The meat from this is absolutely the most tender and juiciest meat you’ll ever find and you’d be a fool not to try it!
Su Kostale, a bone-in aged ribeye marinated and garnished with Italian herbs and oven roasted to perfection. Filleto di Pagnello Alla Bottarga, which is fresh red snapper fillet pan seared and served with shaved Bottarga from Porto Cervo. You can easily pair any of these dished with these wines: Le Muraie, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, Recchia (personal favorite of the evening!) or Ca’Bertoldi, Amarone Della Valpolicella, Recchia.
If you’ve made it this far and still want more, you’re in luck. For desert, you have the choice of: tiramisu, limoncello cake, and Sa Carapinna, which is the chef’s homemade creation of the day. Pair with Mirto to finish the evening.
No matter what you order at Zio Cecio, you know it’ll be delicious because Chef Farris creates each dish with his home country of Sardinia in mind. And, with a famiglia mind-set, he’ll tailor each dish to your specific needs.
ZIO CECIO ziocecio.com
4615 W Lovers Lane (West Dallas)
I love a classic steakhouse, as any decent Texan (or honorary Texan, thankyouverymuch) should. That said, feasting on a 22oz ribeye … in a suit a tie … with the smokiest, oldest scotch on the menu … in a dimly lit cave of masculinity isn’t for everyone. The Grill on the Alley at Galleria Dallas realizes this; enter their decision to introduce some fresh, new menu items that extend beyond the requisite Porterhouse and baked potato. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that … it’s a thing of beauty, really.) Also in the works: a new, more contemporary look and feel. (The first thing to go will be the white table cloths.)
New seafood starters with a decidedly exotic flair have been added to the lineup. The Crab & Hamachi Roll (avocado, mango, tobiko, lime, $17) and Ahi Tuna Poke (onion shoyu, tobiko, avocado, wonton, $18) are fresh, light and delicious. Looking for something a bit more indulgent? (OK, absurdly more indulgent.) Check out the Nueske’s Slab Bacon ($15) with a maple bourbon glaze. Holy meat candy, Batman.
Other lovely options that have been added to the lineup include a beautiful Sea Scallop entree served pan-seared with a smoked carrot puree ($36) and a bone-in Pork Tomahawk Chop ($35)with apple compound butter … and at 14oz this bad boy chop is well-suited for sharing. (Or, not. Being selfish is cool, too.) If The Grill’s new offerings have you wondering, “Where’s the beef?”, fear not. A 14oz Prime New York Strip ($49) has been added to the menu, too. All praise the god of red meat.
You won’t want to miss out on The Grill’s side dishes, with offerings like Roasted Vegetables (sweet potatoes and brussels sprout leaves are the star performers, $11) and Lobster Mash Potatoes ($25).
And by all means, save room for dessert. Stacked 6 layers high, The Grill’s Coconut Cake is glorious, if also a bit intimidating.
The Grill On the Alley offers Happy Hour Sunday through Friday, 4-7pm, and Sunday from 11am-7pm, with special prices on cocktails, beer, wine, and bites. See details here.
The Grill On the Alley- Galleria Dallas 3270 Dallas Parkway, Dallas, TX 75240
The (arguably) cooler weather means bars and restaurants are bringing out their fall and winter offerings. Pappas Bros, one of Dallas’s classic steakhouses, rolled out four fall-inspired options that are real stunners.
COLUMBIA RIVER FIZZ | Strawberry Infused Aviation Gin, André Clouet Rosé Champagne, Giffard Vanilla, Becherovka, lemon, egg white, orange blossom water
This delightful fizz doubles down on the fluff with an egg white and champagne, giving it a generous head that makes the whole drink rich. The strawberry infusion offsets the herbaceousness of the Becherovka.
ARUGULA GIMLET | Wheatley Vodka, John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum, lime, arugula
PAPPAS BROS. IRISH COFFEE | Jameson Black Barrel, Amaro Montenegro, dark sugar blend, coffee, lightly whipped cream
It’s easy to go wrong with an Irish coffee, but Pappas Bros got it right. The whipped cream was the perfect texture and the coffee was rich.
In addition to these four seasonal cocktails, Pappas Bros. has a full menu of classic cocktails with a twist and bartenders that can whip up whatever you fancy. And, as always, they have a generous whiskey selection along with other high-end spirits.
Studio Movie Grill continues to think outside the (popcorn) box with their ever-expanding, evolving menu offerings. With a lineup of seven new menu items to choose from, now is as good a time as any to liberate yourself from that $9 Coke and $11 box of stale Raisinettes.
Thirsty? Studio Movie Grill has added two new adult beverage options to the lineup:
You’re an adult, so you’ve clearly earned the right to enjoy dessert before dinner. That said, this frozen cocktail tastes like it’s straight out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The Bailey’s Cookie Butter features Kahlua, Monin Cookie Butter, Bailey’s, and Pepsi ($9). Yes, you can taste the Pepsi … and I assure you, it totally works.
The Fiery Apple is here just in time for chillier weather; this combination of Angry Orchard and Fireball ($9) will warm you up inside quicker than this season’s biggest Rom Com.
Studio Movie Grill’s five new edible offerings are sure to rival what’s on the big screen as the “Feature Presentation”:
Their Seared Ahi Tuna is mixed ruby greens, edamame, roasted peppers, avocados with wasabi lime drizzle. Surprisingly fresh and delicious, you can’t go wrong here. Unless you’re watching “Finding Dory” … then, you might try, ya know, not fish. ($12)
The Blackened Chicken Flatbread Pizza (Southwestern cheeses, roasted chiles, onions, cilantro) was delightfully spicy and seemed downright healthy. ($11.50)
Their Scratch Tempura Onion Rings are served with a zesty Creole dipping sauce which gives these hot, crispy, and dangerously addictive rings a nice zing. ($6.95)
While it’s a bit of a departure from traditional spaghetti and meatballs, even the Corleones would have to admit that the Blackened Chicken Pasta is pretty delicious; Blackened Chicken, cavatappi pasta, bacon, green and red onions, tossed in a Southwestern cream sauce. ($13)
I can’t really think of a cheesy movie-related joke to make about their Roasted Pepper and Garlic Hummus that’s served with fresh cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, and toasted flatbread. If you’re a hummus enthusiast, you may be interested to learn that there is an actual movie devoted to the topic of hummusthat is purportedly sweeping the nation as we speak. Seriously, this is a real thing. ($8.25)
Studio Movie Grill Daily Specials:
MONDAY: $5 House Margaritas, $5 Regular Popcorn TUESDAY: Ask Your Server About Our $5 Food + Beverage Specials! WEDNESDAY: $5 Big Beer Cans, Endless Pizza (One Topping, No Sharing) THURSDAY: $5 Deep Eddy Handmade Vodka You-Call-Its, $5 Desserts FRIDAY + SATURDAY: $5 Off Margarita Pitchers, $5 Betty’s Blend & SMG Cellars (Glass) SUNDAY: $5 Betty’s Blend & SMG Cellars (Glass), $5 Ice Cream Sundae
A great, big “thank you” to Studio Movie Grill for having me out to try the tasty new menu lineup, and for creating a situation in which I was able to manipulate my 40 year old husband into watching Moana with me, which I’m pretty sure he secretly enjoyed.
The culinary team at The Second Floorby Scott Gottlichalways manages to keep things fresh and interesting–and most importantly, delicious. With new addition Chef Ryan Barnett (formerly of Stephen Pyles) at the helm, this certainly continues to be the case. I recently had the opportunity to pay a visit to Second Floor to check out a French-inspired “Classics” prix-fixe menu that ran for a limited time. From the first bite of French Onion Soup down to the last taste of Cambozola en Croute, each dish was flawless and exceeded my expectations. Other highlights of the evening included a beautifully seared Steak Diane, as well as a masterfully executed Rack of Lamb. Thoughtfully curated wine pairings were available for each course. Chef Barnett informed me plans for future prix-fixe menus are on the horizon, so keep on eye The Second Floor’s website for a peek at what’s to come.
In the meantime, The Second Floor has debuted a new lineup of fall menu offerings that you won’t want to miss. Among them, the Texas Gold Shrimp & Grits with an anchiote tequila cream sauce ($14/$25), an Orecchiette Pork Ragu with slow-braised pork jowl ($15/$24), and a Lobster Risotto with roasted butternut squash ($14/$36). And, consider drinking your dessert; The Second Floor’s featured fall cocktail (created by Gina Gottlich) the Caramel Appleton, ismade with Ciroc Apple, Bailey salted caramel, butterscotch, cranberry, cream and garnished with a caramel rim ($13). If whiskey is closer to your speed, check out the Cinnamon Whiskey Sour (Makers 46, cinnamon, cranberry, citrus, rocks–$13). See the full fall menu here.
The Second Floor Happy Hour:
Speciality cocktail of the day (changes daily) $5
Domestic Beer $4
“The Best Wine in the City”, Honoro Vera, Garnacha, Spain, or Les Costieres de Pomerols, Picpoul de Pinet, $5
Various Snacks and Small Bites $2-5
The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich 13340 Dallas Parkway (inside Galleria Dallas, Level 2)
By now, it’s no secret that some of the best seafood in the Metroplex (as told by D Mag, the Observer, The Dallas Morning News, blah blah blah) is at Sea Breeze Fish Market & Grill, tucked away in Plano’s LakeSide Market just south of Preston & Spring Creek. Sea Breeze is already a neighborhood favorite; that said … Dallasites: If you haven’t been here yet, I would highly suggest working a Plano date night (or girl’s night, or an “I feel like eating good seafood” night, or a random Tuesday dinner) into the rotation … like now. With the introduction new menu items including a brand new craft cocktail program (SusieDrinksDallas readers: rejoice), there’s never been a better time to give Sea Breeze a try.
Speaking of that cocktail program…
The new cocktail lineup was carefully selected by manager, Ryan Oruch and features premium spirits and fresh ingredients, with an emphasis on crafting beautiful drinks worthy of Instagram. Or Snapchat … whatever. Current offerings include:
Lakeside Mule – Stoli vodka, Velvet Falernum, fresh lime juice topped with ginger beer
Honey Badger – Maker’s Mark, Barenjäger Honey Liquor, fresh lemon juice and a dash of habañero bitters
West Plano Punch – Olmeca Reposado, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, pomegranate juice, shaken with fresh mint
Texas Margarita – Silver Z tequila, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, shaken with a jalapeño slice
Vanilla Old Fashioned – Bulleit rye, vanilla infused simple syrup with a dash of Angostura bitters
Sunset Lemonade – Bombay Sapphire, Lillet Blanc, shaken with fresh raspberries and topped with lemonade
I tried the Texas Margarita, and I loved the tartness of the fresh-squeezed lime juice in this citrus-forward cocktail. It had a subtle spice to make it interesting without melting my face. I also sampled the Honey Badger, and the sweetness of the honey was the perfect complement for the slow burn from the habañero pepper.
All cocktail offerings are available for $9, but, during their DAILY happy hour (read: including weekends) 4-7pm, they can be enjoyed for $6. Boom.
In addition to their new cocktail lineup, Sea Breeze has an interesting and well-appointed wine list reflecting a variety of guest favorites available by the glass and bottle. Each month, featured wines are available by the bottle for a special price. (Call for more info.)
While the cocktails I sampled were delicious, Seabreeze is, in fact, a fish market (and restaurant); so, let’s talk seafood. I spent some time chatting with owner Rick Oruch, and I am here to tell you … the man is passionate about seafood. “I always invite people to give our fish the ‘sniff test’,” Rick explained. “Good seafood shouldn’t smell”.
Rick flies in fresh, seasonal varieties direct from the source; be it Alaskan snow crab or Gulf snapper, you will only find it at Seabreeze if it’s fresh and in season. Rick explained he only buys whole fish, which they fileted on-site for maximum freshness. All seafood is hand-sorted and inspected, meaning only hand-picked selections ever make their way to the seafood counter, or onto your plate. After sampling a variety of items, Rick has me convinced; you can taste the difference.
We started out with the Sautéed Snow Crab Claws, nestled in a decadent lemon, garlic butter and accompanied by a buttery, grilled baguette ($16). The tender crab melts in your mouths and has a sweet, delicate flavor … an exercise in self-control was required to keep from sopping up every last drop of garlic butter with the toast. We also tried the new Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs, accompanied by arugula and a sriracha mayo ($7); the smokiness of the salmon and the spice of the sriracha played perfectly together. Rick brought us a cup of Seabreeze’s New England Clam Chowder ($4), proclaiming, “It’s something we are really proud of.” And I can see why; fresh clam flavor is the star of the show in this rich and hearty chowder, with a notable lack of distracting ingredients (read: bacon) frequently incorporated in other chowder recipes to mask inferior clams.
For our entrees (because we needed more food … ) we sampled the Cioppino ($25) and the Lobster Mac n’ Cheese ( $22). Cioppino is a San Francisco-style seafood stew. I am going to be completely honest; at seafood restaurants, I usually shy away from any dish with “seafood” in the title. I always assume this is where leftover odds and ends find their final resting place. Not in their kitchen. The Cioppino quickly bucked that notion as every bite of clam, mussel, shrimp, calamari, and fish tasted fresh and vibrant. The tomato broth base was spicy and begged to be sopped up with the delicious house bread. As for the Lobster Mac n’ Cheese … simply stated, Seabreeze does it right. Gruyere and white cheddar are the cheeses of choice in this dish, and nearly every bite I took was loaded with an impressively sized chunk of sweet, decadent lobster.
Speaking of lobster, one of the most popular menu items at Seabreeze is the New England Style Lobster Roll, served on a split-top bun filled with tender lobster salad ($16). The lobster roll is a perfect warmer weather lunch (and those days are rapidly approaching), and I can absolutely vouch for the deliciousness of this dish from past experiences.
Worth mentioning: Rick also shared with me Seabreeze is now offering an off-menu Surf and Turf Burger, featuring fresh ground chuck from Hirsch’s Meats crowned with lobster salad and arugula. Oh. Hell. Yes. Call ahead before visiting to see whether the burger is available; Rick will only make the burger when he has fresh beef on-hand from Hirsch’s. (Just another testament to his insistence on quality.)
Here’s one more thing you may not know about Seabreeze: They offer bi-weekly “demo-style” cooking classes, where guests will learn to prepare 3 or 4 recipes and then taste those creations with wine pairings. Classes are $50 per person, class size is very limited and reservations are required. Reservations can be made by calling 972-473-2722.
Primo’s is a Dallas institution in it’s own right. It would be harder to find a cheesier enchilada or a frostier happy hour margarita than the familiar offerings at this beloved industry favorite.
In case you missed it, Primo’s closed its doors in 2013 and reopened them again in early 2015 under new ownership. The new owners attempted to update Primo’s tried and true menu, much to the chagrin of many once-loyal fans. It wasn’t working. I have wonderful news for Primo’s loyalists and Tex Mex enthusiasts alike: Primo’s is, once again, under new ownership; and this time, new owners Dirk and Mark Kelcher (of Ron’s Place and now Cedar’s Social) intend to restore Primo’s to its former glory. Primo’s fans can expect to see the majority of the original menu, with a few thoughtful additions that don’t take away from what Primo’s should be.
Some welcomed additions to Primo’s menu include a variety of new specialty cocktails, as well as a collection of aptly dangerous tequila flights. While Primo’s Tex Mex menu is full of old favorites, their re-vamped cocktail menu is creative and playful- in a good way. If you’re feeling indecisive, throw caution to the wind and consider allowing the bartender to craft you an off-menu libation based on your personal preferences. I was lucky enough to sample several off-menu creations, such as the delightfully zippy Basil Jalapeño Margarita and the cleverly crafted Moscow-Rita, prepared with ginger beer in place of triple sec. While all of the specialty cocktails I sampled were interesting and delicious, I would be remiss not to remind everyone how comforting and satisfying Primo’s house marg so happens to be. Not too sweet, not too tart, and nice and smooth; simple and darn near perfect.
I can happily confirm the Kelchers are delivering on their promise to stay true to Primo’s old school Tex Mex roots. The chips are crispy and hot, the salsa spicy, the queso decadently thick and cheesy, and the guac is fresh and chunky. Primo’s beef tacos cause grease to dribble down your chin in the best way possible. Meanwhile, the chicken tacos are quite possibly the ultimate soul-warming comfort food … apart from, of course, the enchiladas. Fajitas are served sizzling, decorated with sexy little char marks that cause one to salivate in anticipation.
Ongoing specials include Margarita Tuesdays, including $3 margs and $7 taco plates, along with Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., including $3 domestic drafts, house wines, house margs, and well. $7.99 lunch specials are available Monday-Friday from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
I’m a big fan of the “fancy” cocktail. Don’t get me wrong … there is a time and a place for a good ol’ plain Jane vodka soda. (Usually that time is whenever I am on a diet, and that place is wallowing in a pool of sadness…just kidding! …kind of.) But, if I really want to savor what I’m drinking, I enjoy seeing what happens when bartenders are allowed to flex their mixology muscles and craft drinks that stretch beyond the realm of classic cocktail offerings. If you’ve never been to Pepper Smash at The Shops at Legacy in Plano, believe me when I say that “creative” is their thing. I am still trying to figure out whether their cocktails are more aptly described as “art,” or “science,”- but whatever the case may be- they are mixing up some mighty delicious libations.
Pepper Smash graciously invited me in to check out a few of their new menu offerings, and of course to reacquaint myself with a few of their delicious signature cocktails.
We kicked off the evening with one of Pepper Smash’s most popular cocktails: the Fire Smoked Dr. Pepper ($11).As the name suggests, this cocktail is quite literally smoked before your very eyes, infusing Maker’s Mark with a smoldering oak essence created with a nifty apparatus apparently designed for this very purpose (though it vaguely looks like something Walter White would have stashed in his RV). Imperial sugar Dr. Pepper is add to the mix, giving the cocktail a delightfully familiar sweet-smokiness.
Smoked wood chips are impressive, to be sure, but you aren’t really winning at craft cocktails until you throw a cotton candy machine into the mix. That’s right, Pepper Smash keeps a cotton candy machine behind the bar for the sole purpose of crafting one drink: the Cotton Candy Martini ($10 — Absolut, lemon juice, vanilla syrup, champagne, and you guessed it: cotton candy). I had a hard time conceptualizing how this cocktail would “work”, so I had to order it to see for myself. A familiar fluffy cloud of pink cotton candy is served in a martini glass, and the liquid ingredients are then poured over the cotton candy, which dissolves amidst a fleeting instant of melancholy. But, you can still taste it. Not shockingly, this cocktail is on the saccharine side and reminded me vaguely of a boozy Orange Crush. Definitely an interesting selection.
Because cotton candy machines and booze smoking apparatuses apparently aren’t enough, Pepper Smash offers two cocktails that are frozen with liquid nitrogen: the Pineapple Express ($11 — Bacardi Pineapple, ginger, pineapple juice, champagne) and the Triple M’s Explosion ($12 — pineapple and strawberry infused vodka). The presentation of this duo is dramatic to say the least, as wisps of “smoke” dance atop your cocktail glass when it is placed in front of you.
“But, what is a Pepper Smash,” you may wonder? I’m glad you asked, because I simply can’t visit without ordering one. The cocktail kitchen’s namesake, the Pepper Smash ($10), incorporates a bold blend of Tito’s vodka, red bell pepper, jalapeno, onions marinated in 100 proof vodka agave, and lime juice. Spicy and robust with just a hint of sweetness, this unique savory cocktail is probably my favorite one on the menu. (I recommended it to the guy seated next to me at the bar, and he ended up drinking three.) I say the Pepper Smash is “probably” my favorite, because I have a hard time dismissing Eden’s Garden ($12 — Plymouth gin, elderflower, cucumber, basil, mint, jalapeno, lime juice- as a close second).
With so many creative, tasty cocktails to focus on, it would be easy to overlook the food at Pepper Smash. Don’t. Everything I have ever sampled from their kitchen has been seriously delicious. Sometimes, I find myself day dreaming about their Smokey Mac & Cheese ($9 — cavatappi pasta, sharp cheddar, gruyere, smoke). Everything I sampled on this visit was equally as tempting.
We started out with the Pimento Cheese ($8), which was topped with bacon jam, and accompanied by buttery grilled sourdough and blistered shishito peppers. Holy new favorite appetizer. If there is something in this world that cannot be improved upon by bacon jam, I want to hear about it.
Pepper Smash always hits it out of the park with their flatbreads, and this visit was no exception. We sampled the Al Pastor ($12 — cider braised pulled pork, sweet onion puree, pineapple, jalapeño, and lime). The toppings were generously portioned, with a little taste of every ingredient in every bite. If you are a fiend for spicy dishes, this flatbread is definitely for you; loaded with fresh jalapeños, this dish definitely woke up my palate.
When it comes time for dessert and the manager asks, “Wanna try something weird?” there’s clearly only one correct response. We were presented with a liquid nitrogen frozen ice cream concoction- incorporating Licor 43, vanilla ice cream base, basil, and fresh strawberries. I love unexpected flavors in desserts, and the basil was an awesome addition. This was an off-menu delight, but I feel confident it can be snagged upon request.
TLDR: the next time you feel inclined to treat yo’self to an incredibly unique, seriously indulgent cocktail experience (yes, it really is an experience), + some killer eats, head on over to Pepper Smash at the Shops at Legacy. (And probably plan on Ubering it because the urge to try all of the cocktails on the menu is pretty overwhelming.)