Italian Food News

Acclaimed chef shows zest for ziti at snappy Italian restaurant in Plano

Acclaimed chef shows zest for ziti at snappy Plano Italian restaurant

Melty cheesy lasagna. Aventino's

There's a new Italian restaurant opening in Plano from an acclaimed Fort Worth chef. Called Ziti's Italian Restaurant, it's designed and built by chef Chris Hight, from Fort Worth's beloved Aventino's Italian Restaurant, and will open at 3131 Custer Rd., at the intersection of Parker Road in a busy center that is also home to Cuban restaurant The Latin Pig.

The restaurant is slated to open in mid- to late-November, if all goes according to plan.

Hight calls it an Aventino's spinoff but with a snappy new format. "Aventino's is a bit more of a formal dining experience, where you might sit down for two hours," he says. "Ziti's will be faster and fresher."

That said, everything on Ziti's menu is based on Aventino's tried-and-true recipes.

"The chicken parm at Ziti's is Aventino's chick parm," he says. "The sausage and peppers, the lasagna, the meatballs, all that is Aventino’s recipes - my recipes. It's just reconfigured in a new format."

The menu has some of your prototypical suburban Italian items, such as fried mozzarella cheese sticks, fried calamari, meatballs, and Italian sausages. Entrees include chicken with marinara, baked sausage and peppers, and eggplant parmesan.

Salads include a Romaine-spinach combo topped with chicken breast, and a Caesar topped with grilled chicken.

Pasta-wise, there is baked ziti, as one might expect, plus lasagna and manicotti.

But they also have a section called "ziti bowls," in which ziti pasta is paired with various ingredients.

  • Ziti Aventino's is ziti tossed with green peas, ham, onion, bacon, and alfredo sauce.
  • Ziti D'Alessandro is ziti tossed with sauteed mushrooms in a creamy pesto sauce.
  • Ziti Fungi is ziti with mushrooms sauteed in garlic, crushed red chiles, olive oil, and marinara.
  • Ziti Umbriana is ziti with crumbled mild Italian sausage, fennel seeds, white wine, and alfredo sauce.
  • Ziti Pesto is ziti tossed with fresh basil puree, olive oil, pine nuts, and romano cheese.
  • Ziti Meatballs is ziti with marinara, topped with two meatballs.
  • Ziti Meat Sauce is ziti pasta topped with meat sauce.

You can also customize your own ziti experience, by choosing your own assortment of sauces and toppings from a selection that includes some of the above-mentioned meats and veggies as well as roasted garlic, spinach, and artichoke hearts.

And that sums up the ziti.

They'll also serve beer and wine.

Hight, who grew up in a family that did construction, has designed and built 90 percent of the restaurant - which you can follow via a set of engaging videos he's posted on the restaurant's Facebook page.

He chose Plano because he got a good feeling about the space, and because he felt confident that his careful approach to Italian food would find an audience.

"There's not that much Italian out here, and I feel like what we do will stand out," he says.