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[First Look] Partenope Joins Downtown’s Italian Spike.

The Newest Player In Downtown Dallas’ Suddenly Crowded Italian Food Game Is A Loving Addition From A Power Couple With Enviable Expertise.

All photos by Emily Loving, courtesy of Partenope. 

Three Italian restaurants have opened in Downtown Dallas in the last few weeks — and it’s OK if this sudden rush on pasta in the Central Business District has your head spinning. We’re here to help!

In September, 400 Gradi opened along Ross Avenue. It’s on the fancier side, a sit-down spot with a focus on authentic, Italian cuisine imported from Italy with Very Important Water and other accoutrements. It draws a business-heavy lunch crowd and is good for happy hours and date night later in the day.

Around the same time, CiboDivino opened up its second area location inside of Bryan Street’s aptly named Bryan Tower. Here, it’s all about grab-and-go pizzas, pastas, coffee, beer and wine served Euro-casual-style. It’s chic and urban, and great for either a power lunch or when you want to pick up a dinner to eat at home on the way out of the office.

Partenope’s dinner menu. (Click to enlarge.)

The latest addition is Partenope, which just opened up at 1903 Main Street inside of the beautiful and historic Titche-Goettinger Building.

This ristorante, while also focused on authentic Neapolitan cuisine and house-made dishes, has a much more romantic backstory than its counterparts. The couple behind this spot — Dino and Megan Santonicola — are locals with deep Dallas restaurant roots. Megan has worked in restaurant management at memorable spots such as The Green Room, Dragonfly, Hibiscus, Central 214 and a little pizza chain called Cane Rosso. Dino worked with her at that last spot, serving as its executive chef and master pizzaiolo. Now, the two hope to bring their many combined years of front- and back-of-house expertise to their own vision, which the public can experience from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. most days and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

At the onset, their vision for Partenope is definitely alluring. Here, you can indulge in a Caffé Napolitano made with beans from the nearby Palmieri Cafe or sip on cocktails featuring a refreshing bergamot soda they’ve imported from Italy. You can also   tear into Dino’s gold medal-winning Montanara pizza — a pizza fritta that puffs up gloriously from a quick trip to the fryer before baking in the custom oven that’s been decorated by pieces of ceramic hand-painted by Italian nuns — or one of Partenope’s 10 other pies, which exist on the menu alongside a handful of pastas and other delights.

Perhaps most impressive is the way in which the ownership couple’s passion for food and service resonates throughout the spot. Its name offers good insight into why that is: Partenope is the siren of Naples, which is where Dino and Megan Santonicola were married. It’s cliche to describe enjoyable dining experiences as being prepared with love, but at Partenope, it really feels integral to its appeal.

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