Italian Restaurant News

Dallas' Oak Lawn district makes way for friendly new Italian restaurant

Dallas Oak Lawn district makes way for friendly new Italian restaurant

Crusty pizza is on the menu at Enoteca Italia. Photo courtesy of Enoteca Italia

There's Italian headed for Dallas' Oak Lawn area: It's a contemporary Italian restaurant and wine bar called Enoteca Italia, serving from-scratch pasta and other Italian staples with innovative and thoughtful twists, and will open in The Centrum building, at 3102 Oak Lawn Avenue, #116, in the location previously occupied by Mille Lire.

Enoteca is from chef Alban Besiri, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago who grew up in an Italian restaurant family outside of Chicago. He moved to Texas in early 2021 for the opportunity to have his own place, after having run the kitchen in a variety of restaurants around the U.S., from Davante Enoteca in San Diego to the Hampton Social chain.

Besiri is a high-energy character who says he loves to teach and wants everyone to enjoy Italian cuisine.

"I want diners to feel what it's like to eat food you love — I cook like you cook for your mother when you want to impress her," he says.

He's in the process of updating the space: replacing the floors, adding antique mirrors, lots of greenery, a vented stone wall, and an Izzo pizza oven, a model that combines wood-burning and gas. He hopes to open by mid-September.

Enoteca will offer multiple experiences including a casual space at the entrance where you can sit down and have a glass of wine; a traditional dining room where you can have a contemporary Italian experience; and a sunroom and bar where you can order appetizers and small plates.

"The menu will have items you can share at the table, or you can order your own entree or a summer salad with seafood," he says.

He'll also offer weekend brunch.

He intends to establish a clear departure from the previous occupant, Mille Lire, which opened in 2017 with $28 short ribs and $20 pappardelle alla Bolognese; Mille Lire closed in 2020.

"All this space needs is a great operator," he says. "Enoteca will be contemporary and affordable, a place where families can come in and have dinner or a wonderful Saturday brunch."

Family is a big deal to him; one of the incentives to move to Dallas was the fact that his sister moved here with her husband, who owns a location of Scramblers Cafe.

"One of the fun things we want to do is have dough balls that we give to kids - they can have fun and try making a pizza," he says. "That's still who I am, the kid playing with dough."