Dallas had a busy weekend on the restaurant front, some of it good news, some bad. In fact, half good, half bad: There were two meaningful restaurant openings that quietly took place — but also two unfortunate closings, one in downtown Dallas and the other in Deep Ellum.
Let's do the good news first:
NEONY Pizza Works
Indie pizzeria in Oak Cliff is officially opening on November 30, but hosted a soft-opening preview over the weekend which owner Alex Ham quietly announced on Facebook.
"Would love to meet all of you who have been following and patiently waiting for this thing!" he said.
Ham is a commercial photographer but he also previously owned a pizza place in Korea. He's been posting appetizing photos of his pizza experiments including great-looking dough with long fermentation times, which adds all sorts of flavors to the crust.
Pizza varieties sound delish and include:
- Cup & Char with pepperoni, mozzarella, and tempting drizzles of mascarpone
- Pesto Cream, with a house pesto cream sauce base, sausage, spinach, zucchini, and mushroom
- Banh Mi pizza with cilantro aioli, lemongrass sausage, cucumber, pickled carrot, and cilantro
- Veggie pizza with sliced tomato, mushroom, red onion, peppers, and roasted garlic
It's an artisanal rendition of NY-style pizza but with a lighter dough, fermented for 72 hours, that takes 4 to 5 minutes to bake, which means you'll get it a little faster than you would a traditional NY-style pie.
No pizza by the slice, however. "The best pizza is fresh," he says.
It's very Ross-style: It seats about 28, with an open bar and an open kitchen doing a limited menu that'll change frequently.
Demers has worked at high-profile restaurants such as Oak Dallas and Mi Piaci; he was also at a brasserie in Deep Ellum called On The Lamb that specialized in charcuterie.
The menu is not yet listed on the restaurant's website but here's a peek at the menu for the first week:
- oysters mignonette
- parsley butter prawns
- tuna sashimi
- smoked mackerel with celery, potatoes, caviar, and creme fraiche
- 48-hour Wagyu tongue
- Bibb salad
- grilled fennel with mache
- "rich man’s omelet" with caviar
- duck confit with olives
- linguine with black trumpet mushrooms and shallots
- gnocchi with beef cheeks
- salmon with fingerling potatoes
- skate with artichokes and capers
- duck with kimchi and green onion dumpling
- beef with pomme Anna
The wine selection is boutiquey with by-the-glass selections that include Evolution pinot noir from Oregon, La Nerthe grenache from Cotes-du-Rhone, Daou cabernet sauvignon, Crazy Creatures rose, and J. de Villebois Sancerre.
Low-profile restaurant in downtown Dallas at 2032 Main St. in the old Masonic Lodge/Western Union building closed on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, after 20 years.
The cafe was a counter-serve deli serving breakfast bagels, sandwiches, and salads, hewing to a level of good quality that was almost matter-of-fact, with a cool vibe that was both urban and retro, like the kind of place you'd be thrilled to find in any big city.
In a long heartfelt Facebook post, owner Mike Vouras said it was not due to health issues or other external factors. "It just seems that this is the right time to move on. 20 years in one place is a long time, not to mention operating that whole time in a high-traffic, volatile, rapidly changing spot," he said.
He thanked his landlord Ken Good, whom he called a "helpful, giving, understanding, and honest businessman," as well as family members and customers.
"I don’t feel like I’m losing customers. I feel like I’m losing about a thousand good friends," he said.
Pioneering Deep Ellum brewpub closed on November 28 after nearly seven years, during which the neighborhood underwent a dramatic turnover, from low-key area on the rise to overdeveloped cluster with high-rise buildings sprouting up.
BrainDead opened in March 2015 as a brewery and restaurant, with their own beers made onsite plus a menu of beer-centric food and helped pave the way for other similar concepts to follow.
But two of the original founders subsequently left and the brewpub took a serious hit from COVID-19.
They closed with a big well-attended party on Sunday night.