Sunday, November 9, 2008

Siciliano's A Taste of Italy ~ Garland, Texas

Mr. Music was over at the RJG headquarters about a month ago, and we were reminiscing over former restaurants we had gone to when the RJG lived in Addison, and later Carrollton, in the late 80s and early 90s. I asked "What about that one in Garland?" After much deliberation, Mr. Music said "Oh, I remember - Siciliano's!" In the database it went, with a code saying "revisit".

So it was one recent Saturday that me and the Mrs. decided to make the long journey over and visit this restaurant that I haven't been to in at least 16 years. Saturday is the ideal day to embark on "road games" as it were. We've tried to make a point to venture out of our comfort zone of NE Tarrant and visit the various regions of the DFW area. And Saturday is the only day where we can be pretty certain of less traffic - and that the restaurant is likely to be open (unlike Sunday or holidays).

In parallel news, one of my colleagues in the San Francisco Bay Area made the comment that Lebron James wouldn't play for a "small market team" like Dallas. "Small market?" I said exasperatingly. "Listen home boy, DFW is the 4th largest media market in the country, ahead of your precious little Bay Area." Typical left coast comment I say. Anyway, I bring out this story, only to underscore just how sprawling the DFW area is. We basically drove from the NE Ft. Worth suburbs to the NE Dallas suburbs. It takes 45 minutes without traffic, and we barely covered a fraction of the entire area.

Siciliano's sits roughly in dead center Garland, on Buckingham, just east of Shiloh. Garland is one of DFW's largest suburbs and is big enough to have it's own regions and cultures within. As we approached the restaurant, in the dark, I said "Nope, this isn't the place - way too big." After our meal, we spoke with the owner who clarified that it is indeed the place we were thinking of. They had previously been in a smaller restaurant inside a strip mall (which is what I remember) - and moved to this new construction about 8 years ago.

Old School. That's all I could think of while we enjoyed our meal at Siciliano's. Their pedigree is from the classic Italian restaurants that used to be throughout the Detroit area (and a few remain). About the only nod to modernity that I could see, were the garlic knots brought out prior to our meal. In the 1970s, having practically grown up eating Italian food in the restaurants on Lower Greenville and Mockingbird, you ate the Lisanti breadsticks that were in the basket, or you didn't eat anything prior to the appetizer.

The salad. Yes, that's it! That's the salad dressing of my youth. Before the late 1970s rage of "creamy Italian" and before anyone even knew what the word balsamic meant, we all ate salads with an oil based dressing, that had the right amount of vinegar and Italian seasonings. We make a mean Italian dressing at the RJG household - that's as close as we can get to the old days - and it still doesn't taste quite like this.

Homemade meatballs. Oh yes, my darling, that's why the RJG exists. To seek out places that some thought were extinct. How come nobody makes a homemade spicy meatball anymore? Siciliano's does! And they tell me their sausage is homemade too. Next visit.

Chicken Parm. You know, that's what they call it on the menu. Do you understand the significance of this? Anyone who has ever grown up in the East or the Midwest, refers to this dish as Chicken Parm. Not Parmesan. And certainly not Pollo Parmigiana (remember, that's $5 more just for the name). Ah, burnt gooey cheese. Crispy outside. Al Denta pasta on the side. If it were perfect, the Parm would cover the entire dish, and they'd serve the pasta in a bowl next to it. But hey, who's complaining?

They had my favorite dessert on the menu - Cappucino Pie. This is sort of a Dallas original, as you won't find it outside of the DFW area (or at least I haven't anyway). And it's usually made by one local supplier. Not Siciliano's. It's homemade (like everything here). Completely different taste - with a white cappucino ice cream, whip cream, chocolate syrup, graham cracker crust and sliced almonds. Mmmm-mmm-mmm.

They have a full bar, and their wines by the glass seem reasonable (for example $5.25 for a good Pinot Grigio).

Website: http://www.sicilianosgarland.com/

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