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First Look: Americano, new Italian-inspired restaurant in the Joule Hotel, Dallas

americano at the joule hotel dallas copyright Michael Hiller-7 americano at the joule hotel dallas copyright Michael Hiller-5 americano at the joule hotel dallas copyright Michael Hiller-8 americano at the joule hotel dallas copyright Michael Hiller-4 americano at the joule hotel dallas copyright Michael Hiller-9 americano at the joule hotel dallas copyright Michael Hiller-2

Every neighborhood deserves an Italian-inspired, Sunday gravy place where a guy can get a bowl of handmade pasta and a Peroni, and a gal can get a crispy-crust Calabrese sausage pizza, maybe some eggplant caponata with warm bread and a strong drink from bartenders who know that two fingers of whiskey really means three. Americano, the new restaurant in the old Charlie Palmer space downtown, offers just that, minus any whiffs of pretense.

The dining room isn’t much of a looker: lime green paint, shellacked plywood, black-and-white tile floor accents. If Americano doesn’t work out as a restaurant, the place could be reborn overnight as a child care center.

Fortunately, chef Matt Ford’s kitchen, barely running a week, turns out simple food whose roots are grounded in an Italian nonna’s cucina.

Besides an exceptionally unexceptional $75 prime beef porterhouse — grilled then schmeared with a heavy hand of roasted garlic — most entrees bob around the mid-$20s. Smaller plates like albacore tuna crudo, crispy aroncini with porcini and taleggio, and that caponata dish keep their heads around $10. The crisp-crusted pizzas, with savory toppings a la Rome — guanciale, potato and rosemary on one, squash blossoms, ricotta, mozza on another — are priced in the teens, and they are Americano’s strong suit.

And don’t miss the flaky peach crostata with a scoop of toasted coconut gelato. At just $8, it’s the best thing on the menu.

1530 Main St., in the Dallas Joule Hotel, Dallas, 214-261-4600.

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