Italianni's ~ Hurst, Texas
Italianni's started life as a chain concept from Carlson Restaurants (most known for TGI Fridays). Carlson no doubt wanted a piece of the Italian chain dollar and went head to head with Brinker's Romano's Macaroni Grill and Darden's very popular Olive Garden. But the market was already saturated, and they eventually decided to shut down the concept here in the US. The Hurst store however still had a loyal following, and was purchased locally, and has been run independently for close to 10 years now. Interesting to note that the chain is still operating in Mexico, Korea, Colombia and The Philippines - so there's been some discussion about Italianni's needing to change their name. Bud Kennedy on Eats Beat recently reported that was actually going to happen imminently. But on our last visit, they told me that wasn't a concern anymore - and so the name lives on.
Italianni's is one of the few Italian restaurants in the area not owned by families from the former Yugoslavia or Albania. As such, the recipes are all unique, and is in fact a chef driven place. We've tried a variety of dishes, primarily the southern/central Italian classics along the lines of chicken parm, angel hair bolognese, spaghetti and Italian sausage, farfalle rustica, etc... Excellent salad and bread starts the meal off right. And the wine and beer selection is quite robust, and I like that they typically feature one microbrew from Ft. Worth's own Rahr & Sons brewery. Probably the closest restaurant in terms of overall ambiance and menu choices would be I Fratelli in Las Colinas.
Italianni's is a place we go far too infrequently, and surprisingly I have yet to feature it on our blog. It's consistently good - and a great choice for lunch. We've gone probably once or twice a year for about the last 5 year or so. Not sure why that's been the case, but we have every intention of visiting Italianni's more in the future.