Category Archives: Italian

Wine & Magic

Didn’t think wine night could get any more fun? Think again.

Checkered Past Winery, located in the Southside on Lamar building, is making sure your wine night is never boring. Their $20/person Wine & Magic nights happen once a month, and let me tell you, this isn’t your ordinary magic show.

I’m glad Susie sent me (because magic makes her uncomfortable), and I’m glad she did.  The magic host, Trigg Watson, puts on a modern and entertaining (dare I say frustrating?) magic show. His tricks kept us on the edge of our seats and scratching our heads in awe.

While our team has been longtime fans of Checkered Past, we were excited to visit in a new capacity.

With over 60 wines and 20 local craft beers, the last thing you’ll be worried about is running out of options. To compliment the wine, Checkered Past offers an array of spreads (all made in house), charcuterie, and pizzas. Don’t forget to end your evening with one of their delicious desserts!

Upcoming Wine & Magic nights are March 10 and April 14. Stay tuned to Checkered Past’s website for other events and future Wine & Magic nights.

Checkered Past Winery
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Zio Cecio Celebrates Six Years

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.


4615 W Lovers Lane (West Dallas)

Pictures and copy by Peyton Meersman

Scala’s Bistro at the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake

San Francisco is a land of plenty—and especially plenty of dining choices. While staying at the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake during my last visit, I ventured down to their lobby restaurant, Scala’s Bistro. I’ve found that Kimpton Hotels have excellent restaurants, and this was no exception.

The rustic Italian eatery masquerading as a French cafe-style bar gives diners the chance to take a trip away from the streets of San Francisco and off to the Mediterranean, if just for an hour. (Our meal lasted a good deal longer thanks to the many rounds of cocktails and one three rounds of pasta. We couldn’t have been more excited for each and every course to hit the table.

The food was all as fresh as it could be from the seafood pasta to the burrata. They offer traditional and inventive pasta options along with wood-fired pizzas and a ribeye that looked so good I nearly nicked it from the next table when it was delivered.

While I usually have an extra sidecar as dessert, we were convinced to order from their post menu. And we were damn glad we did.  Their desserts are all handmade in-house by Chef Kimberly and her team. They offer a truffle assortment that’s not only decadent and delicious, but they’re also hand painted and are interesting flavors to represent the different neighborhoods of SF. Think the Castro (white chocolate Negroni), the Mission (pasilla and arbol chiles) or the Haight-Ashbury (““Honest‎ officer, its smoked oregano!”). The chocolates were really a unique end to the meal.

I was also floored by the staff; every person was as helpful as they could have been. Service was prompt and everything hit the table quickly. And, seeing as the restaurant was at capacity, we were doubly impressed by the expedience of the dishes.

Big thanks to my buddies, @thesamgraves, @craftandcocktails, and Ashley’s lovely husband out in San Francisco for joining me for this meal! What a delight!

432 Powell St, San Francisco
(415) 395-8555

Thanks to the Kimpton for showing me a lovely time at this meal!
Header image courtesy of Scala’s Bistro

Antonio Ristorante – Tasting Tuesdays

If you’re looking for a new date night idea, or if you’re  constantly on the hunt for authentic Italian food (the Northern states have all the luck with that), boy do we have a treat for you.

Antonio Ristorante, nestled away in Addison Circle, will transport you to the Italian countryside with its food, wine, and atmosphere. Classically trained Chef Antonio hails from Calabria, Italy and brings a hint of French cuisine to his tables for their $20 Tasting Tuesdays. Guests are served three lightly-portioned courses and wine pairings for each course. Even better, they’ll send you home with a simple and authentic recipe to try out the dishes in your own kitchen.

Chef Antonio prepares the main dish in front of restaurant goers and explains the recipe over a microphone; a waiter then explains the wine pairing with the notes that are to be experienced. Reservations for upcoming Tasting Tuesdays can be made here.

All of Antonio Ristorante’s food is ordered often to ensure freshness. If a customer especially likes a certain dish, the Chef will take note of their email and phone number to let them know the next time they have that dish. They also offer a few wild game options for the adventurous. Wine bottle prices are 30% cheaper than at other Italian restaurants with bottles starting at $27 – which we all know means you can spend that extra money on more wine.

A new food special will be available soon, and it’s a doozy. Their #LateNightDateNight offers a free pizza with any wine bottle purchase. Coming next week (the week of 5/4) for your date night needs, Thursday through Sunday after 9pm!

Antonio Ristorante
4985 Addison Circle (Addison)

Lunch Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-4pm
Dinner Hours:
Mon-Thurs 4pm-10pm
Fri 4pm-11pm
Sat 5pm-11pm
Sun 4pm-10pm

Piattello Italian Kitchen- Fort Worth

Marcus Paslay, for the win.

The chef and creator of Clay Pigeon has done it again. Piattello Italian Kitchen is now open in the Waterside development off Bryant Irvin and Arborlawn. This little piece of Italian food heaven features from scratch, seasonal dishes. Appetizers range in price from $6- $10 and entrees from $15- $44. The menu is fairly limited, but it changes frequently. You can’t really go wrong with anything you order–all of the breads, pastas, charcuterie, and cheeses are made in-house, and are made well.

The pictures of the food basically speak for themselves–every dish is outstanding. The pasta dish that crosses my mind about twice a day when I feel any sort of twinge of hunger is the most basic item on the menu is the Stozzapreti Cacio e Pepe (parmigiano, pecorino, and black pepper). So simple, but it is a must-order. A close second to that dish is the Spaghetti Pomodoro (San Marzano tomato, basil, parmigiano) that is also truly amazing.

They have figured out how to raise the bar on the most basic Italian dishes. Long story short- anything you order, you will come back for again and again (in my humble opinion).

I mean, the food at Piattello makes me drool just thinking about it, but those cocktails … yum. They have created well-balanced cocktail list with a little bit of everything. My favorite cocktail is the FunkyTown Punch (Tito’s, lemon, aperol, St. Germain, simple syrup). I could drink on a this all night long as it’s not too sweet and super refreshing. My other recommendation is the Goldrush (Four Roses Bourbon, honey syrup, and lemon). Again, this drink is super refreshing with a nice tartness from the lemon.

The current draft beer selection has a good mix, with something for every type of craft beer drinker with options from Rahr & Sons Blonde to New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout.

One word of caution: any choice you make from the bar will be pricey. They are worth it, but be warned–draft beers start around $7 and most cocktails are around $14, while wine ranges from $10-$16. Considering the entree prices, your one drink could cost more than your dinner alone.

I would highly recommend that you make reservations before you go; the handful of times I have dropped in for dinner, they were able to accommodate me, but I’m not counting on that to happen every weekend evening. There are a few seats at the bar, but that’s about it if they are booked up. (Reservations can be made on OpenTable.)

A great seating option at Piattello is the spacious patio along the Waterside Grove. The Grove is tucked back behind all of the retail so you aren’t looking at a parking lot, but rather a park with yard games and a community pavilion. So you have a chance of catching live music and some great people watching while enjoying dinner.

Piattello Italian Kitchen
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5924 Convair Dr #412 (Fort Worth)

7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Friday & Saturday:
7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.


Americano’s Aperitivo Hour

Americano is a restaurant and bar in the Joule Hotel Downtown.  Let’s just say that it’s decidedly Italian, but with an incredibly modern vibe and clean aesthetic … but sadly, a severe lack of Vespas and Italian accents.

Recently Americano launched their “Aperitivo Hour”, the Italian’s take on happy hour, but with a point. Cocktails served as apéritifs are meant to prep your stomach for a meal, and most contain bitter spirits such as Campari along with vermouths and gins.  (The post-meal version–digestifs–help with digestion and can be anything from fortified wines to liqueurs like Fernet Branca and Chartreuse.)  Look for options like the classic Negroni (gin, Campari, and rosso vermouth) and the Lone Star Sbagliato (rosso vermouth, Campari, and Lone Star Lager).

Along with the traditional Italian cocktails, they’ll be serving up some tap wines by the glass and carafe along with draft beers–both Italian and local.  You know … for the less Italian inclined of us.


Along with the cocktails offered, Americano has a menu of small food items available from 2-5pm with options like their fried olives (my personal favorite), arancini, and fried calamari.


Aperitivo Hour is available daily from 4-7pm, so pop in before dinner and have a cocktail to start off a molto bene evening.  Your stomach will thank you.


CiboDivino Dinner ft. Puleo Wines

“I love this place.” That’s the text I sent to Susie as soon as I finished my first dinner experience at CiboDivino Marketplace.

As this was my first event as a Susie Drinks Dallas contributor, I went into it with the belief that there was no such thing as being too prepared, so I brought along a fellow foodie friend (so I could pick his brain) as well as a brand new notebook in which I could take many a note about the dinner. (I was tempted to bring a voice recorder just in case there was a guided tour of the space (which there was), but I decided against alienating strangers with that level of intensity. Yes … I was that kid in school.) Furious writing in my composition book would just have to do. Since the evening was relaxed and enjoyable with great company and delicious food and wine, the note taking was downgraded from excessive to thorough.

The special five-course dinner was hosted by CiboDivino owners, Daniele and Christina Puleo, as well as Executive Chef, Ryan Olmos.  I was enthralled by the passion and knowledge that the team has for all aspects of the meal: a fervent dedication to responsibly-sourced ingredients, simple, yet articulate preparation of the food, a thoughtful selection of Italian and Californian wines that are hand-picked by Daniele himself, and the crafting of a space that promotes breaking bread with friends and family. By the time we were done with Daniele’s tour of each unique part of the marketplace and cafe, my appetite was ready to tackle whatever delicious goodies he and Ryan had to offer.

Before food, of course, there was wine (as it should be), and Daniele and Christina were very excited to introduce their new private label Puleo wines, currently available in Pinot Grigio and Chianti varietals. The Pinot Grigio is quite surprising–not as watery as I’m used to with most Pinot Grigios. Puleo’s expression is quite flavorful on the nose with stone fruit notes that round out into flavors of green tea and chamomile. As I would find out, this white wine paired very well with the first three courses of the meal. As for the Puleo Chianti, the wine was ripe with cherry flavors and dark fruits, and had a depth of flavor indicative of a Chianti without veering into a residual bitterness. I enjoyed this red with the meat course as well as with dessert. FUN FACT: all wines at CiboDivino are available for purchase at retail prices and can be opened and enjoyed on-premises at no additional charge. Personally, the option to enjoy a high-quality wine at a restaurant without the usual restaurant markup makes the wine taste that much better.


The appetizer course included a variety of Neopolitan-style pizzas fresh from the wood-burning Stefano Ferrara oven (flown in from Italy), quite possibly the most impressive charcuterie board that I have ever seen, and a smoked Tasmanian salmon appetizer bite that I swear encapsulates everything that CiboDivino stands for, which is “divine food.” I sampled two of the flatbread pizzas, one with a classic Margherita preparation and another with fig, arugula, and Gorgonzola cheese.  Neopolitan-style is my favorite kind of pizza, and the crust was perfectly crispy on the outside with just the right amount of chew on the inside.  While both were delicious, I was partial to the Margherita. (Pretty sure that I could eat a whole pizza in one sitting … I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.)

Can we just take a moment and appreciate this charcuterie board? Have you ever seen one so beautiful? It has three kinds of house cured meats, all smoked in-house: lamb pancetta, brown sugar and Serrano ham, and beef bacon (that’s right, you heard me, BEEF BACON). The lamb pancetta, which was aged for a whopping 70 days, had a soft gaminess to it that I loved, and the beef bacon was something I’ve never experienced before. To call it delicious would be a disservice, and apparently I’m not the only to think so. Ryan told us that it’s hard to keep the beef bacon in the display case because it sells out so fast. It was perfectly savory with a familiar unctuousness that I love about bacon, except it was unmistakably beefy and very satisfying.


The highlight of the appetizer course for me, however, was the smoked Tasmanian salmon bite with cucumber cream, caper berry, and a dusting of espresso. The salmon, also cured and smoked in-house, was a tender and salty punch that was balanced by the cool cucumber cream with a kick of briny freshness from the caper berry, and the espresso dust on top added an earthy note that rounded out all of the flavors. I easily ate five or six, since I clearly don’t understand the concept of an appetizer course. (Whatever.)


Pasta was the star of the second course was the Caserecci alla Norma, served with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and eggplant two ways on pea puree. The dish was light and flavorful, with the pea puree serving as a fresh, delicate sauce that complemented the natural flavors of the fresh vegetables beautifully.


The third course highlighted a different kind of pasta, Fettuccine al Limone. This was my favorite of the two pasta courses; the perfectly al dente ribbons were enveloped in an ethereally light and creamy marscapone cheese with fresh zucchini, leeks, fresh mint, and fragrant lemon zest. The flavors were full and satisfying without being overly filling. (I’m also a huge supporter of lemon on everything, so I loved every bite of this dish.)


Then came the fourth course, the crown jewel, which was brought out on a large wooden meat board.  CiboDivino proudly serves 44 FARMS meats, and our group was lucky enough to sample the perfectly seasoned coulotte cuts served alongside caramelized onions and arugula. The marketplace is the only spot in town where you can go in and buy raw cuts of renowned 44 FARMS beef, and they will even grill it for you (free of charge) if you decide you’d like to enjoy your steak at one of the many communal tables inside or on the spacious dog-friendly patio.


Needless to say, by the end of the fourth course, I was stuffed. At this point, I was chastising myself for going HAM on the appetizers. That didn’t stop me from partaking in something sweet, though.  For dessert, Daniele and Christina served bite-sized dessert offerings from their cafe. I, close to a food coma, still managed to snag a Raspberry Lavender Truffle, because no matter how full I am, a meal does not feel like it has concluded until I’ve had something sweet. This two-bite flavor bomb was a wonderful ending to an unbelievably delicious meal. The truffle was deeply chocolate with lavender lending an assertive floral note that cut through the richness beautifully.

Picture courtesy of CiboDivino Marketplace

Everything about dinner at CiboDivino was delightful.  The marketplace offers so many unique goods, some of which are available exclusively there.  Daniele and Christina, as well as Ryan, were all gracious hosts with evident love and passion for what they’ve created together.  It’s rare to meet people who are doing exactly what they love to do, and then for them to do it well, and humbly. It was an honor to be a part of the entire experience. I personally cannot wait to visit again soon.

  • CiboDivino also has a wrap-around indoor/outdoor bar with 11 local beers and one Italian import beer on draft.
  • Paciugo gelato is also available at the cafe, along with Lavazza coffee.
  • Food menus are generally not published on the website, as dishes are determined by the freshest produce available at the farmer’s market on any given day.
  • The marketplace is open 7 days a week, from 8AM – 10PM daily.
  • They also host occasional wine and beer dinners and are currently prepping for their one-year anniversary party next month.

CiboDivino Marketplace
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1868 Sylvan Ave., Suite #D-100 (West Dallas in the Sylvan 30 Complex)

Panevino in Addison: Delizioso!

With nearly 200 restaurants packed into 4.5 modest miles, it’s getting tricky for restaurants to stand out in Addison. Newcomer Panevino, located at Addison Walk, manages to do just that. Indulge yourself in just one meal here and you’ll agree.


Owner and chef, Joseph Ajro, describes Panevino as a fusion of traditional Italian and European bistro elements featuring a wide and varied menu catering to all tastes. That is to say,  you won’t find Chef Boyardee twirling his mustache anywhere near the kitchen of Panevino. Contrarily, executive chef Javier Perez (formerly of Sfuzzi) and his staff make everything in-house, using only the freshest, top-notch ingredients painstakingly selected and imports from the best regions in the world. Following the delightful evening I spent dining with Arjo in his restaurant, I left with the impression he is more or less obsessed with quality when deciding what makes the cut in his kitchen. When I tasted the product of his careful selection process, I understood why.

Panevino boasts an equally thoughtful wine selection featuring wines from around the world. Some of the offerings on the wine list deviate from the expected; Merkin “Chupacabra” Red Blend, anyone? Yeah, that would be an Arizona wine produced by none other than the guy from Tool. (That said, it was delicious.) Clearly, their sommelier, Noah Patridge, isn’t afraid to think outside the box when making recommendations for a new wine to try with dinner. He paired a different wine with each course we enjoyed at dinner, and all of his couplings were spot-on. Original cocktails influenced by European roots round out the drink menu, and a variety of craft beers are available on tap.

But, back to the food. There was not a single dish we tried that fell short of ridiculously good … and some dishes may or may not have made my eyes roll back in my head a little. First, I surprised myself by selecting the Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna as my favorite appetizer of the evening. Served on a bed of artichokes and roasted peppers, the delicate flavor of the seriously fresh rare tuna was perfectly offset by the peppery sear. I’m not usually a big fan of rare tuna, but I would order this dish again … and again.

One of my favorite dishes of the entire evening, however, arrived in the form of our salad course–the Heirloom Caprese Tower. A glorious tower of the freshest Buffalo mozzarella I have ever tasted, interspersed with gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, fragrant basil, and a balsamic glaze, this “salad” was an emotional experience. I wept.


It was difficult to select a favorite entree from several excellent dishes we sampled, but WHEN  (and not if) I return to Panevino, I plan on ordering the Homemade Gnocchi so I can stuff every last one of those perfect little ‘tato dumplings into my face hole.  Crowned with tangles of delicate prosciutto, basil, shaved parmesan, and a rich tomato cream sauce, this is one of those dishes that manages  to warm your very soul. If I had a little Italian grandma, I would probably have to lie to her when I lovingly professed her gnocchi to be superior. (Lucky for me, my descendants are Russian and English, so there aren’t many culinary white lies to be told ‘neath the branches of this family tree. Borscht? Kidney pie? idk.)

My husband’s favorite dish of the evening was the Lobster Ravioli, which I’m pretty sure speaks for itself; except for the fact that the ravioli happens to be crowned with scallops and lump crab meat, so it’s basically one big crustacean brigata on your plate. Also noteworthy was the Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp, filled with lump crab meat, plated atop lemon marscapone risotto, and drizzled with a citrus beurre blanc. Yowza. Panevino does seafood well.


Do save room for dessert. They are all made in-house, and they are not an afterthought; you cannot go wrong here.

Happy hour details:
4pm-7pm Monday through Friday
$5 Sangria, $5 House wines, and $2 off all Texas beers

(972) 807-6268

Monday – Friday
11AM – 11PM
Thursday – Saturday
11AM – 12AM
Closed on Sundays