wo California guys are serving up some of the best Italian food in the neighborhood, and they have plans to expand.

Owner and chef Robert Quick, who attended the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, and Matt Gottlieb, chief operating officer, share a background at Hillstone Restaurant Group. They opened Il Bracco on May 20.

Quick worked at Thomas Keller’s restaurants Ad Hoc and Bouchon but realized that wasn’t his path. After his father died, he worked at Mountain Mike’s Pizza, helping to grow the business from 145 to 200 franchises.

Quick and his wife, a Preston Hollow native, decided to return to Dallas. “I really wanted to get back to this level of dining and this level of hospitality.”

Gottlieb says, “We decided to do our own take on Italian and do a lot of classics.” 

Popular dishes include chicken piccata with a kale salad doused in citrus champagne vinegar dressing. Spicy gemelli, served with a spicy vodka sauce, reggiano cheese and basil, is the restaurant’s best-selling pasta dish.

Savor the meatballs, which are made of beef, lamb and pork, and the plaza salad, comprised of roasted chicken, beets, pancetta and Marcona almonds. Crispy baby artichokes with a side of olive ailoi are the number one starter. Other dishes include Mediterranean Sea bass, Skuna Bay salmon, roast chicken and center-cut filet.

Pasta is homemade, including five different shapes and five sauces. Bread is baked in house. The restaurant sells seven to 10 trays of focaccia every day.

“We’re built for date night, business lunch, weekends and patio drinks with the gals,” Quick says. “We keep the menu small so that we are buying fewer things and everything is fresh.”

Quick’s wife, an interior designer, guided the décor — five colors of terrazzo tile in a Missoni pattern. Expect dark green chairs, camel leather booths and dark espresso table tops.

Quick and Gottlieb screen employees for hospitality. “We sit down and smile at them,” Quick says. “If they don’t smile back, we don’t get past that.”

Quick, a sommelier, recalls a gentleman who is a regular. The customer asked, “Do you know why I’m here?” Quick was thinking to himself, “Because the meatballs are really good.”

Instead, the customer described how server Rebecca remembers his kids’ names, birthdays and whether their football games went well.

What’s next? Quick and Gottlieb have signed a lease and are building a Mexican restaurant in the old Snuffers. It will be called Maravilla. 

“It’s definitely not Tex-Mex with two Southern California boys making it,” Quick says. “It’s a little more Baja, a little more coastal. But you can splurge with queso and brisket tacos or have a protein-based salad and feel like you didn’t cheat.”

Explains Gottlieb: “Homemade pasta here, homemade flour and corn tortillas there.”

Il Bracco

The Plaza at Preston Center

8416 Preston Center Plaza

Hours: Sunday-Thursday,

11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday,

11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Reservations: 214-361-0100

Ilbraccorestaurant.com


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