Niki's Italian Bistro ~ Keller, Texas
August 2013 update: The NRH location is no longer associated with the one in Keller. We have recently visited, and here's our entry.
Mrs. RJG and I have been regular, albeit infrequent, visitors to Niki's since we moved back to Texas in 2003. In fact, I think they're the first Italian restaurant we visited upon our arrival.
Niki's, like almost all of NE Tarrant's Italian restaurants, are of a Balkan heritage. So there isn't much deviation of taste from others we've written about before on these pages like Oggi Italia, Cafe Italia and Bellisimo's. All the familiar telltale signs are there: A tomato based vinaigrette house dressing, similar desserts, a familiar menu with a mix of chicken / veal entrees and tradition pasta, including baked dishes - and pizza of course. On the latter, of the restaurants we mentioned above, we've only tried Oggi Italia's pizza, and if the others follow suit, we'd be very happy. Mrs. RJG's co-workers swear by Niki's pizza, and we've vowed to try it sometime. (4/18/10 update: Tried, and while it's good, there are better pizza places nearby like My New York Pizza and Marco's).
There is one major difference between Niki's and the others: They have a liquor license. That can be seen as a plus for many, but we like the savings of BYOB. We're spoiled in these parts, as most of the country's restaurants want the juicy margins that alcohol can bring. Still, we don't see that as a show stopper, and we'll dutifully order a 1/2 carafe of vino to go along with our meal. Or a nice cold beer at lunch.
Both the wife and I recommend sticking to the baked dishes, or basic red sauce pasta concoctions like chicken parm. They have a nice smooth textured and tasteful red sauce, and the pasta is always cooked al dente and steaming hot.
We probably frequent Niki's about 2 to 3 times a year, and it's consistently good, though not exceptional. It doesn't have to be.
The Keller location is at Rufe Snow and North Tarrant Parkway, set inside a newish strip center on the SE corner. The decor is excellent, in a darkened room with nice lighting and plenty of murals of Italian scenery. It's rather capacious, with two distinct rooms, ideal for large parties of people.