Hints of French and Italian cuisine mingle with Texas culinary traditions at Dino’s Steak and Claw House, where chefs deconstruct classic surf and turf inside a vintage bank building. In the kitchen, they slice fresh garlic and heirloom tomatoes between trips to the grill, which sizzles with 8-ounce beef fillets and 20-ounce porterhouses. Lobster can be ordered with a crabmeat crust or a puffy jacket of ravioli and a pistachio-froth scarf. Meals unfold atop white linen tablecloths dotted with fresh floral arrangements, and chandeliers illuminate the dining room with a glow as warm and inviting as a welcome mat made of jalapeños. Work by local artists accents the entire scene, and grand-piano ticklings turn up the classiness to a glass-shattering 11. A black-marble bar adds an extra layer of luxury, which extends to a patio made for al fresco dining.
It was on the open sea, aboard a Royal Caribbean liner, that restaurant maitre d' Francesco Secchi fell in love. Her name was Jane, a beautician from Great Britain. Her homeland was worlds apart from Francesco’s, the Italian island of Sardinia. But that didn’t phase the lovebirds—they wasted no time tying the knot, and spent the next eight years working alongside each other on Royal Caribbean ships. When the pair decided it was time to settle on dry land, they chose Dallas. Its weather reminded Francesco of his home, despite its patterns rarely being affected by ancient curses cast by Caesar.
In 1983, the Secchis embarked on their next joint endeavor: Ferarri’s Italian Villa. They rooted the restaurant in basics: a warm “Buona sera” for each arriving guest and family recipes more than a century old. This approach struck a chord with eaters, and as the business grew, so did Francesco and Jane’s family. Today, their three sons all lend their talents to the family business—Stefano, in fact, is the head chef. He and the staff still craft a menu of Sardinian classics—gnocchi, lasagna, and cioppino—as well as some upscale American dishes, such as steaks, chops, and seafood. And Francesco and Jane still man the front door every night, welcoming patrons new and old.
Many meals at Vineyard Steakhouse & Skybar have been more than a month in the making. Specializing in USDA Prime steaks, the restaurant ages its cuts?from cowboy ribeyes to filets?for at least 35 days. Even when guests aren't having steak, they can be sure the cooking process was a meticulous one. The pork chops, for instance, have been double smoked, then covered in a bourbon-maple glaze; the fish of the day was carefully chosen by the chefs; and even the shrimp cocktail features wild-caught shrimp instead of ones raised in shrimp boarding schools.
The dining space itself speaks to this attention to detail. Beneath wrought-iron chandeliers, dark woods contrast white tablecloths, while wall sconces join stonework in creating a castle-like vibe. Upstairs, meanwhile, the Skybar and its open-air balcony overlook Grapevine Lake. To complement the view, bartenders pour classic cocktails and uncork more than 200 choices detailed on the wine list.
Good steaks begin with good beef, and The Yellow Rose Steak & Chop House doesn't let anything less than free-range, USDA Prime beef touch its grills. The chefs sear everything from 6-ounce cuts of filet mignon to 16-ounce, hand-cut rib eyes using simple seasonings of kosher salt, black pepper, and butter. This straightforward combination keeps the steak's natural flavor at the forefront. For a true steakhouse indulgence, the chefs also grill cuts of Allen Brothers' steaks?dry-aged for 40 days?whenever they are available.
The menu of hearty surf and turf doesn't stop with steaks, though. It also features down-home classics (think country-fried chicken with homemade gravy) as well as more extravagant plates (Australian lobster tail with drawn butter, anyone?). A modest wine list and classic-cocktail collection ensures a suitable drink to accompany any meal.
The steakhouse's dining room cultivates a romantic, yet rustic ambiance characterized by intimate lighting, dark wood furnishings, and a bar area decorated with silhouetted figures of moose and buffalo. Occasionally, the restaurant hosts live musical performances, encouraging guests to tap their feet and flap their vestigial wings to the sounds of a solo guitar or piano.
Though chef Daniel Nemec specialized in classic French cuisine at the Texas Culinary Academy, his heart lies in the smokehouse. As the leader of Woodfire Kirby’s kitchen, he draws from his experiences growing up in Corpus Christi, where steaks and barbecue pepper the culinary landscape and are considered legal tender.
Nemec imbues hickory flavor in ribs, chops, and sirloin burgers, but demonstrates the wood’s versatility with a menu that also includes wood-fired soups and thin-crust pizzas. New york strip steaks and blue-ribbon fillets are cooked to a choice of six temperatures, including classic medium rare and charred-yet-red pittsburgh. Available raw, grilled, or poached, seafood showcases spices that range from asian to argentine to creole.
A private room welcomes up to 48 visitors with a high-definition TV and four banquet menus, and the dining room attracts nighttime guests with handcrafted cocktails and a buzz as vibrant as a birthday party inside a hornet nest.
Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.