Despite having spent the last three years in Dallas, I have yet to find an authentic Italian restaurant in the area. Texas boasts some of the best Tex-Mex and barbecue but other traditional cuisine seems lacking. As an Italian-American, I cherish places that remind me of my great-grandparents’ homeland and the place many of University of Dallas students called home for four months.
When looking for a restaurant to try this week, I found St. Rocco’s New York Italian. According to D Magazine, the establishment’s doors opened this past September, making it the newest restaurant in the Trinity Grove strip of restaurants. The restaurant is on the first floor, with event space on the second floor. The owners hope to eventually add a rooftop bar.
The restaurant, founded by first-generation Italians Phil Romano and chef Jay Valley, achieves the New York feel with red, white and black vintage décor. Family pictures line the walls, and classic Frank Sinatra plays in the background. The menu items are generally on the more expensive side.
Since we went on a Wednesday night, the restaurant was quiet, but the activity picked up later on in the evening. The servers were kind and helpful in ordering. The mozzarella, tomatoes and basil in our caprese salad appetizer all seemed extremely fresh and were presented beautifully. The tomatoes were miniatures of various varieties, and a classic oil-and-balsamic dressing lightly covered the dish.
Their menu includes many traditional pasta items, such as the chicken parmesan, as well as many seafood items. Elizabeth Kerin decided upon the Sicilian lasagna, while I chose the shrimp pesto. The food came quite quickly. My dish was layered, with pesto over grilled shrimp and tomatoes over pastina pasta (mini balls of pasta). The dish blended well and was fairly light due to the pesto sauce. The Sicilian lasagna was a deconstructed version, which I did not appreciate as I prefer traditional lasagna. Also, both the big chunks of meat in the sauce and the meatballs seemed dry.
I would definitely go back and try other menu items, as the ones I sampled were crafted with care, but they were not the best Italian dishes I have ever had. As far as drinks go, they boast a signature cocktail menu with a Limoncello martini, negroni and frozen bellini. I did not try any, they seem to have a great dessert menu including an espresso chocolate cake and ricotta cheesecake.
The restaurant is a bit expensive for the college student’s wallet, but it would be a great place to go for a special occasion.
St. Rocco’s New York Italian
3011 Gulden Lane, Suite 100
Dallas, TX 75212
Monday — Thursday: 5p.m. —10p.m.
Friday — Saturday: 5p.m. — 11p.m.
Sunday: 5p.m. — 9p.m.