It can be difficult to narrow down options when it comes to dining near the bustling intersection of Preston and Park in Plano, where hidden culinary gems can be found interspersed amid myriad retail, grocery stores and fast food. Indeed, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees.
Allow me to introduce you to Spezzo, a fast casual, rustic Italian dining concept. Offering made-from-scratch dishes, locally-sourced ingredients, coffee, gelato and a full bar, Spezzo is bringing something new and necessary to the table. Open since May 2015, Spezzo has quickly become a popular dining spot among locals.
The restaurant’s décor is invitingly modern, with a bit of rustic charm that transports diners to the Italian countryside. Black and white tile ceilings are juxtaposed with a beautiful canopy of dangling dried flowers at one end, while an eye-catching centerpiece of old wooden shutters fills the space above the bar.
At Spezzo, you can be sure that everything you order is fresh. Bread, dressings, sauces, and even mozzarella cheese is made in-house. The man behind the menu is local culinary rock star Tom Fleming, the consulting chef for Spezzo. You might know Fleming from such establishments as Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Riviera, Mediterraneo, Lombardi Mare, Lobster Ranch, or his own Crossroads Diner – a favorite in neighboring Dallas.
FGR Food Corporation, the local group which created Spezzo, brings more than 35 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Co-owner and Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldblatt explains why this type of concept was chosen: “We thought a fast casual Italian restaurant serving from-scratch, chef-inspired meals was missing in this market.” He and the other owners take an active role in the restaurant, visiting several times a week to observe, take notes and enjoy some of the fare.
When asked about what motivates him, Rob says it’s all about the people: “Working with the amazing managers and staff we have … inspires me every day.” His is an attitude that is certainly shared by Bill Kneeland, general manager of Spezzo, who says his favorite part of the job is getting to know his customers. The owners are also focused on promoting healthy work-life balance for their employees, providing further proof that people really are the priority at Spezzo.
The menu at Spezzo offers a variety of pizzas, salads, pastas and sandwiches, as well as “tailor-made meals” that diners have the liberty of creating personally. One of the most popular menu items is the Meatball Plate, which might escape one’s notice at first glance. They offer beef, pork, chicken, and most recently, bison meatballs. The Zucchini Cakes also come very highly recommended.
There are several tasty vegetarian selections. “The Verde” pasta entrée was comprised of perfect al dente lasagna noodles, spinach, meatless marinara sauce, Portobello mushrooms, homemade Mozzarella, basil, oregano and Parmesan. Also notable is the 3.14 “Salad,” an off-the-menu cheese pizza topped with fresh baby greens.
For dessert, be sure to try out the gelato, which comes in mocha pistachio, tiramisu vanilla bean, strawberry and chocolate chip. When you become a regular, you’ll be glad to know that they add seasonal flavors into the mix as well. Top it off with your favorite espresso drink for the perfect end to your meal.
While navigating the ever-growing list of Plano’s dining options can feel daunting, it is refreshing to find a restaurant that offers something truly unique. The friendly people, made-from-scratch eats, inviting décor and quick service at Spezzo all meld together perfectly to make Spezzo stand out from the crowd with its “rustic Italian, pronto!”Spezzo Website >