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Villa O, Dallas and Trattoria Lisina, Driftwood
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Dallas Despite the landlubber connotations of the word “villa,” the theme here is nautical, with yachtlike details, including varnished mahogany and crisp navy and white accents. (That “O” does some heavy lifting, standing for “organic,” “original,” and “oceanic.”) We were annoyed by the aggressive up-selling that starts the minute you sit down (how about “house-purified water” for $3.50?), but we managed to have a pleasant meal anyway at this latest creation of Billy Solomon and Robert Colombo (the guys behind Trece and the Club). The creamy mushroom soup was tasty, if a touch salty, while a thin-crusted vegetarian pizza sported tomatoes, basil pesto, and airy dollops of goat cheese. The lasagne bolognese came bolstered with premium Wagyu beef, and the stout pasta puttanesca delivered a deliberately salty kick thanks to ample quantities of kalamata olives, anchovies, and capers. Almond biscotti cheesecake, topped with Chantilly cream, maxed out our sugar meter. Bar. 4514 Travis (214-780-1880). Open 7 days 11–midnight (bar till 2 a.m). $$–$$$ W+
Driftwood The forty-minute drive from Austin is definitely part of the appeal; so is eating in the midst of restaurateur Damian Mandola’s baby vineyards. This Hill Country trattoria is new but studiously rustic (and sometimes unbearably noisy); not surprisingly, the menu emphasizes traditional rather than cutting-edge Italian cuisine. The simple antipasti offer some of the best options, like homemade mozzarella balls and prosciutto di Parma. As for entrées, generous in flavor and portion were the fennel-perfumed costate scottadito, or pork spareribs, and the tender veal saltimbocca. It’s probably a good idea to make reservations unless you want to picnic under the live oak trees. Wine. 13308 FM 150W (512-894-3111). Open Tue–Fri 4–10, Sat 11–10, Sun 11–9. Closed Mon. $$–$$$ W+