Downtown News

Italian restaurant from stellar team takes prized downtown Dallas spot

Italian restaurant from stellar team takes prized downtown Dallas spot

Da Mario
The team all met at Da Mario in Frisco. Da Mario

Three Italian gents have come together to open an Italian restaurant in downtown Dallas: Called La Stella Italian Verace, it'll open at 2330 Flora St. #150, in the space better known as the former Flora Street Cafe.

La Stella is from three guys with wonderfully vowel-rich names: Giuseppe "JP" Piccinini, Luigi Iannuario, and Riccardo Ravaglia.

Iannuario and Ravaglia are both alumni of Da Mario, the upscale Italian restaurant at The Star in Frisco, which opened with great fanfare in 2018, then closed in spring 2020 due to the pandemic. Iannuario was previously chef at longtime Italian restaurant Nicola's Ristorante Italiano, which closed in 2019. Ravaglia worked for Lombardi Concepts and previously at Cipriani in New York.

JP is an entrepreneur and innovative real estate pro, according to Candy's Dirt, and who are we to question Candy. Born in Italy and raised in Texas, JP says he is always on the lookout for good Italian food.

"I used to frequent Da Mario's quite often," he says. "I live in Frisco, and was grateful to have a good Italian place nearby that I loved. I would always talk with Luigi and Riccardo, we built a friendship."

After Da Mario closed, Iannuario did some chef consulting, while Ravaglia went to work for the Lombardi group. But a seed had been planted.

"I always wanted to get into the hospitality business, and we started working on it together," JP says.

Their original plan was to reopen in the Da Mario space, and thus the name, "La Stella," which translates to "the star."

Unfortunately for Frisco and fortunately for downtown Dallas, the negotiations were taking too long, and the Flora Street space became available.

"We're really excited about being in that location," JP says. "We feel like we're bringing something exciting downtown."

Flora Street closed in January 2020, presciently prior to the onset of the pandemic; chef Stephan Pyles said he was quitting the industry, and promised to document his various experiences waiting on celebrities as well as evaluate "the dozens of food critics he'd encountered" in his four-decade career.

JP says they have big plans for the space including building a terrace for some starry rooftop experiences.

They haven't built a menu yet but they know it will be authentic Italian, done in a way that's different from what else is around town.

"It'll be a little more modern than your typical spaghetti & meatballs," JP says. "We won't have any fettucine Alfredo or salad or pizzas. We'll be doing local, regional, authentic dishes, precisely done, and cooked fantastically."