New Italian Neighbor

Avanti’s second location brings a lot of the same menu but a much different atmosphere.

| photography by Alex Lepe |

For nearly 30 years, Avanti Ristorante in Uptown Dallas has served up northern and southern Italian dishes made with seafood, veal and steak. I’ve been a loyal patron for 10 of those years, enjoying the live music, homemade pasta and romantic ambiance. When I heard that Avanti was coming to Fort Worth, I knew I’d need to pump up the cardio in preparation for more convenient carb loading.

Easily visible from the street with its bright red umbrella-studded patio, Avanti is the beginning of a boom at City Place. Other new tenants include Wild Salsa, Chop House Burger and Hooters. Don’t fret about finding a parking place, Avanti offers complimentary valet.

Expecting the dark woods and Old-World charm of its Italian relative, the new restaurant couldn’t have strayed further from the original location. High-backed tufted booths in soft muted colors were partnered with light wood tables containing fresh cut flowers, and a handsome bar area is separated from the main dining room by a curving banquette. Unlike its older brother that features dim lighting and candle-lit tables, Avanti Fort Worth is filled with sunlight spilling in from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Knowing the entrees would be extremely filling, our table began with one of the more modest sharables. Stuffed Mushrooms Florentine ($7) comes with four caps overflowing with prosciutto, spinach and Parmesan. A bathing of both béchamel and marinara sauce complete the pleasing presentation. Every bite was tender, creamy and salty.

Arriving to the table next, appropriately timed, was the Jumbo Lump Crab Salad ($12). Don’t expect the watered-down imitation crab meat served at some establishments; this is the real deal. Resting atop a mixture of delicate watercress, candied pecans, sliced pear and Dijon tarragon vinaigrette, the flaky crab cake was akin to something you’d find on the coast of Maine.

Entrée portions at Avanti are generous. Combining pork loin, pancetta, tenderloin and a Pinot Grigio reduction, the Tagliatelle Bolognese ($12) is my personal favorite. The quality of the dish hasn’t wavered in the many years I’ve been ordering it. A key to its success is the house-made tagliatelle pasta.

With a so-far nearly perfect dining experience, my heart sank slightly as my spoon tapped the top layer of the Crème Brulee ($8). I was robbed of that satisfying crack of the caramelized sugar crust usually featured on this dish, but the cool traditional custard and after-dinner cappuccinos left us content.

Location: 150 Throckmorton St., Ste. 140
For Info: 817.991.6455
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Mon.-Thu. 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
What We Liked: Avanti doesn’t cut corners. The homemade pasta alone is worth the visit.
What We Didn’t: The only complaint was a flimsy top crust on the Crème Brûlée.
Our Recommendations: With the cool weather upon us, experience a glass of good wine and plate of pasta on Avanti’s patio.