If you're an observant (or obsessive!) follower of who's who and who's where on the ever-changing Dallas dining scene, here's a debut to note. Remember Kyle McClelland, the talented executive chef of Proof + Pantry who had been set to open Madrina with the Misery Loves Company restaurant group last fall? We had featured him earlier that year in the inaugural issue of Palate magazine as one of seven young chefs who were shaking up Dallas' culinary landscape. As chefs go, McClelland is definitely one who has something to say, so I was excited to see what he'd do at Madrina.
Now shazam! He's back! Cooking in Frisco, of all places – at the newly opened Vicini American-Italian Kitchen and Bar. The handsome, spacious restaurant debuted very quietly in late January in a former sports bar on Warren Parkway.
But that's not all: Pastry chef Annika De Paula Loureiro joins him there.
That adds up to a reunion: The two worked together at Proof + Pantry, and before that at Driftwood (which has since closed), as well as in New York at Prospect. Most recently Loureiro was a pastry sous-chef at Uchi.
Pastas are a strong focus for McClelland, who is gradually rolling out his menu. He's excited about exploring the world of extruded pastas – a whole different thing than rolled-and-cut pastas. At the moment, he's featuring hand-made cavatelli, which he fashions into a rich, creamy spin on carbonara with Benton's bacon and English peas. He also makes potato gnocchi in-house, tossing it with braised beef, spinach and Parmigiano-Reggiano, along with spaghetti and meatballs. (There's seafood linguini too, but with pasta that's not yet being made in-house.)
A small menu of antipasti includes Burrata with arugula, crispy quinoa and balsamic vinegar, an Italian frisée salad with asparagus, shaved speck and a gorgeously cooked soft duck egg and more. Vicini pot roast – a savory, saucy and pretty gorgeous affair starring short ribs, favas, English peas, charred onions and more – leads off the main courses. Pan-roasted salmon with white beans, roasted fennel and parsnips; grilled Texas quail; seared chicken with favas, celery root and haricots verts; and a long bone tomahawk rib-eye to share round out the offerings.
Loureiro, for her part, is tip-toeing into her dessert menu. At the moment, she's offering just sweet: double chocolate-chip cannoli with house-made coffee ice cream and macerated berries. This weekend, however, there are two others on a special Valentine's Day menu: passion fruit perfetto with lavender and yogurt puffed risotto, and chocolate cake with smoked cherry and barrel-aged vanilla gelato.
Did you neglect to make V-Day reservations?
Vicini is very new, mind you, and it's also off the beaten path. American-Italian in Frisco may be your answer.
Vicini American-Italian Kitchen and Bar, 7777 Warren Parkway, Frisco; 469-362-8044