Quiet luxury abounds at new Italian restaurant Dea near Dallas' Inwood Village
The countdown is on for Dea, the new Italian restaurant opening near Dallas' Inwood Village from acclaimed restaurateurs Tracy Moore Rathbun and Lynae Fearing.
Dea is going into the former Fireside Pies space at 7709 Inwood Rd., and is slated to open in mid-September — right next door to their beloved Asian restaurant Shinsei and just a shot down from their seafood restaurant Lovers Seafood & Market.
"We've always had our eye on the space, and when it became available, we felt like we had to — only because if we didn't, someone else would," Rathbun says. "But we also felt like there would be an opportunity for great synergy between three restaurants. One of our priorities, one of the things that makes us special, is that we're there in our restaurants. We are part of the team. Having that proximity, where we can go from restaurant to restaurant each night, is so valuable."
Dea is "goddess" in Italian — appropriate for Rathbun and Fearing, whose hospitality skills have earned them a devout following from Preston Hollow neighbors and foodies alike. The menu is still being finalized but will be Italian-centric with some truly authentic dishes.
The chef is Roman Murphy, currently at Lovers Seafood and previously at North Italia as well as a number of high profile restaurants in Austin including Isla, Jeffrey's, Peche, Congress, and Sandra Bullock's Bess Bistro.
There'll be classic pastas such as
- cacio e pepe
- Bolognese with ground beef & spicy Italian sausage
- pasta alla Genovese with short rib
- pasta all’ arrabbiata
There'll be a daily risotto with seasonal ingredients, and at least five salads including arugula, Caesar, burrata, beet salad, and an Italian salad with olives, tomato, salumi, and pecorino in a roasted garlic dressing.
Entrees include seared salmon with mushroom risotto, PEI mussels, scallops with white bean cassoulet, roasted chicken with potatoes & broccolini, and halibut with chili and orange glaze, served with farro, a nubby grain that's a favorite in Italy.
Desserts are irresistible and rustic: salted caramel chocolate tart, olive oil cake, apple crostata, and panna cotta.
"But it'll be the same way we've always been — we don't feel the need to be pigeonholed," Rathbun says.
Tiles and textures
The pizza oven was just about the only thing they kept from Fireside Pies. The space has otherwise been transformed, with a redesign that encompasses a stunning pastiche of muted colors and textures.
"Texture was a priority," Rathbun says.
You enter the building through the side — the street-facing facade is splashed with an eye-catching floral mural by Alli Koch, making the restaurant easy to spot as you pass by.
The bar occupies the front half of the space, with the dining room and kitchen in the back, enclosed by a glass window so you can see but don't need to hear. On the periphery of that window is another bar with tall seating for casual dining, where foodies can grab a bite while gazing into the fray.
The overall interior is bisected into two spaces, bar and dining room, by a narrow, floor-to-ceiling wine room that looks like a wall. The inside is temperature-controlled, and is backed by panels of cork.
Little touches of casual luxury abound, like the wicker wrapped around the stems of the wall lamps in the dining room, or the gleaming brass foot rail that runs around the bar.
Nothing is matchy-matchy. There's something intuitive and a little bit ancient about the mish-mash, such as the underside of the bar, featuring ovals of wicker set against a muted tweedy floral fabric.
Mirrors are a thing, and murals, too, and there's tile, tile, everywhere: small tile on the floor of the bar, done in a ruddy red-and-white; geometric blue-and-white tile that almost looks floral, in the arched windows; glazed ocean-green glass tile that wraps around the (semi-enclosed) kitchen; and black-and-white marble checkerboard tile on the floor.
"We did it in honor of the fact that Italians love tile," Rathbun says.
Like Shinsei next door, Dea has a second floor space which they've outfitted in sexy teals and midnight blues. It'll serve as an overflow space but can also be rented for private events.
Rathbun closes her eyes when asked how much has been spent.
"A lot — but these days, having a nice space is so important, otherwise people just stay home," she says. "Obviously, the food has to be great, but you also have to give them a beautiful destination they want to come to."