Italian Eats

Downtown Dallas Italian restaurant takes its cheesy garlic bread north

Downtown Dallas Italian restaurant takes its cheesy garlic bread north

Porta Di Roma
The pasta and cheesy garlic bread are headed north. Porta Di Roma

After 18 years, one of downtown Dallas' most abiding restaurants is branching out: Porta di Roma, which has been serving red-sauce Italian in the Central Business District since 1990, is opening a second location in Richardson.

The restaurant will reside at 2301 Performance Dr., which just happens to be conveniently located at the DART Rail Galatyn Station and less than a block from Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts.

Porta di Roma owner Demi Beshiri had been looking very casually to expand, and felt this spot had promise. Ironically, it was, at one point, a second location of Sol Irlandes, a fellow downtown Dallas restaurant which just closed.

"I like the area, and thought it could be good for business," Beshiri says. "They've opened quite a few apartment buildings in that area and there aren't many places to eat. I thought it might be good for an Italian restaurant."

The remodel is underway and will feature some of his own handiwork. "I do all the artwork, the painting is mine," he says.

Porta di Roma does homey Italian-American dishes such as spaghetti marinara, lasagna, manicotti, and veal parmigiana at an affordable price, ranging from $11-$20. There are pizzas, a full bar, daily lunch and dinner specials, with good service in an unpretentious atmosphere.

The restaurant has endured downtown's down times by capitalizing on whatever opening it could find. Lunch has always been a staple, but Beshiri was among the first to sense the needs of early downtown dwellers, back in the '90s, by staying open for dinner, when other restaurants shut down at 3 pm — even if it meant a sometimes empty restaurant on week nights.

These days, he continues to address downtowners' needs by keeping late-night hours, providing a pitstop for a quick bite or even just a Scotch on the rocks.

In Richardson, he'll offer a new feature that serves the needs of the neighborhood.

"I'm going to add a coffee bar, so I can attract all these new residents and workers," he says. "I want to provide a place where people can come and sit and spend time there."

Otherwise, it'll be the same basic menu, but a little smaller. "My prices are not high and we have good service," he says.