Owner Preston Lancaster is already in the pizza game as owner of Cadillac Pizza Pub in McKinney and four branches of Palio Pizza Cafe. He says that Taverna will be similar to Cadillac.
"We're not giving them the same name because Cadillac is such a special place," he says. "It's in a 100-year-old building, and it's the real deal. We make everything from scratch and source it locally. Taverna's concept is similar: a pizza bar, a fun place with pizza, music and beer — not just a pizzeria but the whole experience."
Related neither to Alberto Lombardi's Taverna nor Jay Jerrier's Cane Rosso, Taverna Rossa is moving into Lakeside Market, in the space that was formerly Red's Patio Grill. "It has a great patio, which we're going to enhance by demolishing the wall and redoing it with garage doors that open up to the lake," he says.
For an oven, he's going with a gas-fired Woodstone Fire Deck. "It's not just ambient heat. It’s like a combination of a wood-fired and a traditional New York deck oven. It's not a Neapolitan-style; it's more that thin, crispy deck-fired pizza, almost like a Chicago thin crust. Brian hails from Chicago."
He and Luscher have known each other for years. Lancaster is even a partial investor in The Grape.
"I met Brian when he was still executive chef out at TPC Craig Ranch," Lancaster says. "We hit it off because we were both dreaming about having our own restaurants. I was planning a restaurant concept, and then he got a call from The Grape."
In addition to pizza, the menu will include entrées such as roast chicken and New York strip steak, plus cocktails and 24 beers on tap.
"We'll do some cool pastas that Brian's dreamed up, plus some salads, sandwiches, unique appetizers and small plates," Lancaster says. "The menu is a rustic Texas take on pizza. We like doing crazy stuff like adding brisket and sport peppers and toppings that aren't Italian.
"The way we've worded it, is that it's crispy with a hint of Italian methodology. We use the word craft – craft pizza and beer."