New money is like a new restaurant in that there can be a whole lot of glitz when it first arrives, but after awhile, it’s replaced by a bad taste in your mouth.

For years now, some of the neighborhood’s most notable names and well-traveled diners (Ross Perot and George W. among them) have been frequenting a restaurant that does no advertising except in the Yellow pages. Much like its diners, Cafe Expresso has little need for public relations, because style isn’t a matter of acquiring, but of what you do with what you have.

“I didn’t have the resources after purchasing the place,” says German-born owner Dieter Paul of buying his restaurant in 1991 from previous eponymous owner Alberto Lombardi.

“In some ways, the name change was a matter of economics. The lit sign was there, so we changed it from Lombardi’s to Expresso; it was a lot cheaper than doing anything else.”

In order to open a restaurant in Dallas these days, it seems like no expense is spared at the risk of practicality, yet someone always ends up paying because wowing people and satisfying them are two different things. Satisfaction runs deep like the lining of your pockets; if both are empty when your diners get up to leave, you’re usually out of luck.

At Cafe Expresso, Dieter and the Cafe’s chef for the last 18 years, Oscar, keep things simple because they have to be: “Our kitchen is very small, very limited,” Paul says, “so we have to be careful what we offer from the menu. It’s not very difficult to write a fancy menu, but you have to be able to produce it when you’re busy, when you’re packed, and have it work.

“We buy the pizza dough, because, number one, you’d need this big machine that costs like $10,000 to make it, and number two, I don’t have the room for it.”




Grilled Shrimp & Pasta

6 large shrimp

1 tbs. olive oil

½ tsp. minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and marinate shrimp for 2 hours. Grill.


1 tbs. olive oil

½ tsp. garlic

½ tsp. shallots

½ tsp. basil

½ tsp. parsley

½ tsp. oregano

2 tbs. green peas

2 tbs. diced tomato

salt and pepper to taste

Saute all ingredients and toss with cooked pasta. Serve.

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