Uptown Dallas mainstay Avanti Ristorante is about to join a migration west. The restaurant will open a Fort Worth location in mid-March, in the One City Place development, on the site of the former Tandy Center.
The original Italian-Mediterranean restaurant has been on McKinney Avenue for more than 30 years. It's a cozy rendezvous spot and top go-to for night-owls, thanks to its willingness to stay open late, with its trademark "moonlight breakfast."
Owner Amin Malek says that the Fort Worth branch will be much like the original, but with additions to the menu and twice the space.
"The menu will be similar, but because of the added square footage and the bigger, beautiful kitchen, we'll be adding more Mediterranean items," he says. "We're also introducing some flatbreads for our patio and bar diners, and extending our appetizer selection."
That includes a favorite of his: cheese.
"One thing I've always wanted to have is a nice cheese and charcuterie selection, which we were not able to do in Uptown, due to the lack of space in the kitchen there," he says. "You can't fit more than three people in that kitchen. But I'm a huge cheese fan, and want to offer a nice cheese selection."
Fort Worth will also have another unique feature that's been high on Malek's wish list.
"One thing we've never been able to have on McKinney is a private room," he says. "This has a room that seats more than 60 people, with AV connections for corporate events."
This is not Avanti's first expansion. In 1995, a second Avanti opened at Fountain Place in downtown Dallas, where it became a lunch destination for downtown workers and a popular spot for weddings and other catered events. That branch closed in 2014.
Avanti Fort Worth will pick up the slack. Located at Throckmorton and Second streets, abutting a grassy area it'll share with fellow Dallas emigre Wild Salsa, it re-creates McKinney Avenue's ambience, with an elegant chandelier, huge windows, and patio.
"When we realized we were going to close Fountain Place, we began looking for a place we could host events," Malek says. "Once we saw the location in Fort Worth, we realized it wasn't an event space but would be better suited for restaurant. It gave us a good incentive to go West."