News Article | 6/25/2006

A feast of high-profile restaurants is on the way

Appetites will turn to the W Hotel and Victory Park from now through the end of the year as restaurants sprout in the fertile development ground near American Airlines Center.

The headliner, Craft, by acclaimed New York chef Tom Colicchio, debuted Wednesday along with the megachic hotel.

Like a giant magnet, the complex of retail, residential, restaurants and entertainment has recruited several nationally known names and attracted some top-tier locals. So hard is the pull, says Matthew Mabel, president of Surrender, a Dallas-based management and hospitality firm, that the impact will “reshuffle the deck” of Dallas dining.

Tracey Evers, head of the city restaurant association, believes the influx will generate new energy. Local restaurateurs welcome the concentration because it means a new era, she says. Ms. Evers compared it to the restaurant boom of the 1980s when Dallas diners were enthralled with “a whole new playground.”

National concepts such as Craft and N9NE, a highly rated steakhouse with Chicago and Las Vegas antecedents, moving into an area signal that “it’s a good place to do business,” Ms. Evers says.

Some in the industry wonder how a cluster of restaurants so near AAC will fare on game nights. “Can they draw when there’s already a huge crowd at the arena?” wonders Mr. Mabel. Will diners be able to get to Victory Park restaurants if thousands are pouring in, for example, to a basketball playoff?

Victory spokesman Stuart Rosenberg downplays traffic issues because there will be a “dedicated valet garage plus ground lot parking specific to” dining and retail guests.

Here’s a look at the new restaurants. Craft just launched, while others are scheduled for October and November openings.

• Craft serves luxe ingredients family style. Diners select from a la carte menus to build their own meals. Chef de cuisine Kevin Maxey has scouted local purveyors for fresh, seasonal ingredients and Texas flavor. Besides the New York original, there’s another in Las Vegas.

• Kenichi, an offshoot of sushi hot spots in Aspen and Austin, also serves pan-Asian cuisine.

• N9NE Steakhouse serves prime beef as well as an eclectic menu. Full service is also available at the champagne and caviar bar.

• Luna de Noche Gourmet Grill at Victory adds to the five homegrown “gourmet Tex-Mex” eateries founded by Lisa Galvan.

• Nove Italiano comes from the N9NE group and serves Italian cuisine.

• Victory Tavern is a new concept from local restaurateur Patrick Colombo of Ferré and Steel. Casual American cuisine and boutique beers are the focus.

• Paciugo Gran Caffe will spring from several area gelaterias into a full-blown “gelato caffe concept” by founders Ugo and Cristiana Ginatta.