A Dallas Italian restaurant that became best known for its enticing brunch has closed. Villa-O, which did Italian food on Knox Street for eight years, closed on January 21.
The restaurant was opened in 2008 — a lifetime ago, by contemporary restaurant standards — by La Reve, the restaurant group headed by Robert Colombo. It opened as sort of an upscale Italian place with a nautical-themed dining room.
In 2013, it was acquired by Culinaire International, the Dallas-based company that also owns restaurants such as Nicola's Ristorante Italia and Shula's American Steakhouse, and which oversees catering at venues such as the Belo Mansion.
Culinaire notified staffers on January 20 that the restaurant would close the next day.
The restaurant served traditional Italian, including pizzas and pasta, but in its later years, it became known for Sunday brunch with crab benedict, shrimp crepes, and the ever-popular unlimited mimosas.
The final Sunday was a sad day, lacking said mimosas; a bartender told a patron that they were short on supplies of alcohol in anticipation of the closure.
But Culinaire VP David Wood says that even though Villa-O has closed, not to despair as it's not the end of the story.
"When we bought Villa-O, it wasn't doing that well, and we thought we could move the needle," he says. "We tried a lot of new things. We tried building up the lunch and changing things at dinner. But brunch was always the meal that was busy, and it's probably because of the mimosas."
The company still has lots of faith in the neighborhood. Openings nearby such as Le Bilboquet and Up on Knox are thriving, and even Ziziki's still brings them in, "them" being Park Cities ladies and families.
"We're definitely going to keep the space and are tossing around new concepts that would be good there," he says. "Travis Walk is a great location. Villa-O had a great run, longer than most, but that location is only getting better by the day."