It would be easy enough to announce Da Mario as an authentic, family-style Italian restaurant, but I fear this would undermine the true triumph of this restaurant, which could be summed up with the word “design.”
From the moment you cross the threshold into Da Mario, located at The Star in Frisco, you are quickly made aware that you have entered another realm. With mid-century modern interior elements and tasteful presentation of delectable courses and cocktails, Da Mario offers an experience that is designed to be both captivating and transformative.
With warm wood paneling, sleek marble and a soothing color palette of golds and deep greens, the interior design is subdued and yet highly curated. Stylish, vinyl chairs evoke the sexy, smoky afternoon of a Don Draper lunch, and the chandeliers are a 21st century update to those designed by mid-century maestro Max Ingrand.
If you are compelled to search for more color, you will find pops in the natural ingredients (yes, the flowers are edible!) that are featured throughout the restaurant.
Design firm Rockwell Group has created a perfect harmony of warmth and style.
The attention to detail at Da Mario is also designed for perfection. From General Manager Melissa Nasits’ exciting welcome to the perennial grace and poise of the waitstaff, the service was impeccable.
I was honored to meet the charming Italian-born Executive Chef Luigi Iannuario. As he offered up explanations for our multi-course meal, he was friendly and energetic when explaining different ingredients and the origins of certain dishes.
It seems to be of the utmost importance to Chef Iannuario that diners at Da Mario know that all of the ingredients are organic and sourced both regionally and abroad. For instance, when I asked about the basil, he traveled to the bar, brought back a plant, and explained that the basil was sourced from a farm here in Texas. We plucked off a few leaves and tasted them with pleasure.
But you want to read about the food, don’t you?
The first course consisted of a cured meat called Culatello, which is known as “the champagne of salami.” This special meat is flown in from Italy’s Parma region. For salad, might I suggest the Tonno, Fagioli E Cipolla, which consists of a preserved tuna that is just dry enough to add an interesting textural element to the accompanying herbs and cannellini beans.
One of our pasta dishes, the Pappardelle Ragu Di Cinghiale, (a majestic ragu made with Barbera-braised wild boar shoulder, Parmigiano Reggiano, and ricotta salata) was perhaps my favorite part of the entire meal. This dish is the best evidence of taking something familiar, like ragu, and presenting it in a way which is modern for the Texas diner, but which may very well be closer to traditional for the discerning disciple of Italian cuisine. One of the most interactive aspects of dining at Da Mario is the internal debate about which meals are brought over from Italy and which pieces have been concocted by Chef Iannuario and Corporate Executive Chef Mert Seran.
Another main course was the Bistecca Florentina, a dry-aged, black angus porterhouse. One cannot overstate the glory of this steak. The chef carefully grills the steak so that it has just a slight char on the outside and is a perfect medium rare on the inside.
Cocktails are chosen for their cultural significance and then tinkered with to provide a variety of choices, with the special cocktail being the Negroni. Some restaurants might be satisfied with one choice, but Da Mario offers eight, which range from the Angelo, the traditional Negroni, to the Stefano, which tastes sort of like an Italian Old Fashioned, and the Carina, which includes prosecco for a bubbly alternative.
Desserts include a tiramisu in a martini glass, almond dusted cannolis, and Torta Ubriaca, a sort of bread pudding that will alter your concept of time and space with its simple beauty.
Da Mario is a culinary revelation, and fine dining at its most impactful, designed to provide Italian tastes with a thought in mind for the North Texas diner.Da Mario Website >