A noteworthy Italian restaurant has opened north of Dallas with ties to New York: Called Numero 28, it's part of an Italian group that operates restaurants in New York, Miami Beach, and Austin — and now the Village at Allen, at 190 E. Stacy Rd. #1404, in the former Pane Vino Italian Bistro space.
Overseeing the Allen restaurant is Leo Gravina, a native of Italy with his own set of sterling credentials, including a decade working for the Bice Group, the acclaimed Italian restaurant company originally founded in Milan in 1926.
Gravina was part of an illustrious team of Italians who opened the Dallas location of Bice in 2006. He's since gone on to work for hotel groups including Hilton and the Gaylord, and served as director of operations for the Lombardi Group for five years.
Numero 28 was founded in 2006 in New York, where there are currently five locations. They started out primarily as a pizza place; the founding Biamonte family has been making Neapolitan-style pizzas in Italy for five generations. They've since opened Numero 28 locations in Miami and Austin in 2015.
While pizza is still the bedrock, they've expanded the menu, with no location exactly alike, says spokesperson Sophia Chan.
"They follow the same basic menu, but each location tailors their menu to their neighborhood and the team, with the Allen location tailored to Leo's liking," she says. "You'll see that in specials, like risotto with fennel and shrimp."
Some of their recipes have been handed down through generations, including Northern-Italian style pastas, as well as pizzas baked in a brick oven.
- bruschetta trio with caprese, caponata, and artichoke puree
- Bresaola rotolini featuring thinly sliced beef wrapped around arugula and ricotta
- arancini rice balls - both traditional, stuffed with Bolognese beef, and vegetarian, stuffed with mozzarella, eggplant, and basil
- fried calamari and zucchini
- garlic rosemary flatbread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil
- veal meatballs in marinara
- minestrone soup
- papardelle alla Bolognese
- spinach & ricotta ravioli
- bucatini all'amatriciana - large hollowed spaghetti with guanciale, pecorino cheese, spicy tomato, and onion
- spaghetti with meatballs
- lasagna Bolognese
- cannelloni in a creamy mushroom sauce
- tagliolini black ink fradiavolo - served with scallops and shrimp
- chicken paillard with rosemary potato and spinach
- eggplant parmigiana, which they make gluten-free
- chicken parmigiana
- porchetta, pork loin wrapped in pork belly, served with red cabbage
- salmon with mashed potatoes and lentil
- tagliata di manzo - sirloin steak with rosemary potato and arugula
Their signature is cacio e pepe, a simple but compelling pasta dish with black pepper and a touch of butter that's starting to become trendy. But they do it in the classic, theatrical manner, served in a hollowed-out pecorino cheese wheel, which adds great flair and adds a dose of cheesy richness.
Suffice it to say that the dishes are scrupulously authentic and everything is made in-house.
At lunch they have a selection of panini, and prices are reasonable, with specials such as their Express Lunch, with two or three courses, salad and entree, or with dessert; and half-off bottles of wine with dinner on Tuesdays. They also feature wine on tap.
There's also a little something-extra in the service, honed by Gravina's heritage and years of experience in the hospitality industry.
"You have to see Leo in person, he has that charisma and charm — he's an incredible host," Chan says.