When we heard that Sundance Square was getting some new blood -- a Euless-based Italian joint, taking the place of our beloved, deep-fried Zippy's and Sammy's Pizza -- we knew we had to check out the new kid. The Fort Worth restaurant won't open until the beginning of January (in time for Super Bowl XLV), so we sallied forth to Main Street in Euless, home to Saviano's Pizzeria and Restaurant for 16 years.
When we pulled up to the strip mall, we didn't know whether to expect the quick, order-at-the-counter, pizza-by-the-slice ethos of Sammy's, or something more fancy-pants.
Saviano's does have a counter where you order lunch (unless it's after 1 p.m., when table service starts), but the sizable interior offers a more traditionally refined sit-down restaurant.
The menu features all the classics -- pizza, lasagna, chicken parm -- as well as some more sophisticated fare, like cappellini Capri (grilled asparagus, mushrooms and chicken tossed in basil marinara sauce over angel hair) and shrimp fra diavolo (shrimp, little neck clams and mussels in a spicy pomodoro sauce).
Wanting to experience a full-on Italian feeding frenzy, we stuck with the classics and ordered like the plane was going down: salads, pizza, pasta, chicken piccata, fried ravioli. The results, while not world-altering, were fairly lip-smacking -- with one glaring exception. (We'll get to you in a sec, fried ravioli.)
The Saviano salad ($7.95) was a lively blend of mixed greens, marinated veggies and nice chunky shreds of fresh, divine mozzarella. (A plus that it wasn't overdressed, like the poor, drowning lettuce in the garden salads.)
Our star entree was the tomato basil margherita pizza ($16.95). We all loved the balance of the bright red and fresh sauce, the chops of basil and that heavenly mozzarella. And though one of our trio wasn't sold on the cracker-thin crust, the other two loved it.
Somewhere in the midst of the arrival of our entrees came our appetizer, the fried ravioli ($6.95) -- our only crash and burn of the meal. The batter was strangely tough and chewy, enough to make us push these puppies aside so we could move on and explore the rest of tabletop Italy.
So we dug into the pasta sampler ($10.95), which came with manicotti, baked ziti and jumbo ravioli. Combo platters can sometimes be too buried in dark, brooding sauces that make everything taste indistinguishable, but the Saviano's basil-infused marinara gave everything a light feel, and the pasta was pristinely cooked. When we're looking for our next carb-load extravaganza, this joyful dish will be at the top of our roster.
We also ordered the day's special, chicken piccata -- thin chicken cutlets, capers and artichokes, over a bed of angel-hair pasta. A solid dish; the artichokes were slightly underwhelming, and while it didn't stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best piccata we've ever had, it's certainly a notch above what you'd get at a basic pizzeria.
Not that Saviano's is such a place, owner Saverio "Sal" Alfieri emphasizes. In fact, when they open in Sundance Square, he plans to expand the menu a bit.
"We'll feature nightly specials -- things not common in Italian restaurants, but very common in an Italian home," Alfieri says.
For example? Shrimp, stuffed with mozzarella, wrapped with prosciutto, tossed in scampi sauce.
The new restaurant will also feature a patio that seats about 48 people. And Alfieri will be in the kitchen (his sons Giacomo and Anthony both chef at the Euless location). "I will be out there banging out that food myself, personally," Alfieri says. "I've been doing this since I'm 17 years old."
Born in Brooklyn, he spent the first five years of his life in Saviano, in Naples, Italy. "I go back frequently," Alfieri says. "We have a hazelnut and walnut plantation there that we harvest."
So as we wait for the Sundance Saviano's, we'll savor one of our favorite things about our meal in Euless: one killer cannoli -- a perfectly textured pastry shell, oozing with ricotta and teasing our taste buds with cinnamon. Ink us in for a January date, cannoli. We'll be back for you.