A brave restaurant with an Italian theme will go into a Greenville Avenue location that could politely be called iffy. Called Gallo Nero Italian Bistro, it will open at 1905 Greenville Ave., in the space that was most recently Chombo's, and before that La Bodegas, and before that, Bohemian Cafe, and before, and before.
Gallo Nero is a sibling to Roma's Italian, a restaurant in Duncanville, which also has a spinoff quartet of Roma's in Louisiana. The Duncanville restaurant is popular with the locals, who rave over the baked pasta dishes and the house-made complimentary garlic bread, served warm.
Owner Florenc Leshnja says that the Dallas location will feature some of the same dishes as Duncanville, but with tweaks that better fit the neighborhood.
"Greenville Avenue is a big step for us, but we have two things in our favor," he says. "First, our food is good, and we have great service. We hope those two things combined will win us customers."
Menu changes include a tighter focus.
"The menu at Duncanville is pretty big, so we'll pare it down to make it smaller and then introduce a few new dishes specifically for Dallas," he says. "Our pizza is popular, it's New York-style baked in a brick oven. There are a couple of pizzerias along Lower Greenville, but I like our pizza better than what's there."
Bestsellers coming to Dallas include lasagna, eggplant parmesan, served with a side of spaghetti, and salmon with grilled vegetables.
"We're going to have a full bar, with beer and wine, as well — there's a nice built-in wine cellar," he says.
They're renovating the kitchen with an eye towards opening in April, assuming they get their liquor license. Having an old-school Italian restaurant is not unprecedented. Almost directly across the street was once Nero's Italian, which survived decades until it closed in 2014. Same deal for Pietro's, around the corner on Richmond Avenue, which closed in 2017.
But neither of those were in this particular location, which has had a dicey history ever since Ali Baba, the Mediterranean restaurant that once occupied this space, left and the space lost access to its adjacent parking lot.
And yet, not unlike prior operators who have come into this space, this does not faze Leshnja in the least.
"We'll have complimentary valet, and we want to try and work out a deal with the people who own the parking lot next door," he says. Godspeed.