Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in the realm of Dallas fine dining is Southlake. Known for its lavish neighborhoods and shopping centers, the city of Southlake boasts a variety of fine dining experiences. Although Southlake may be a bit of a drive, lovers of Italian food should most certainly pay a visit to Il Calabrese.
Il Calabrese is the brainchild of Luciano Salvadore. From a young age, Salvadore was passionate about food. He studied culinary arts in Italy and graduated from The Recoaro Terme Culinary School at just 17 years old.
“School was pretty easy for me,” Salvadore says. “The hard part comes after. School is just pen and paper, but when you start cooking, it becomes a much harder process. Even now, 40 years after finishing school, I still find new ideas and challenges.”
Despite owning one of the biggest, and most acclaimed restaurants in Southlake, Salvadore is always sure to keep an open mind. He believes that no matter how far one comes in their career, there is always room for improvement.
“A lot of people come out of culinary school thinking they know everything, and that’s the worst thing you could do,” Salvadore says. “There is something to be learned from everyone. Always be humble, be polite, and be respectful to others.”
Salvadore has lived by this code since the early beginning of his career. He came back and forth from Italy three times before he finally opened Il Calabrese.
“The first time I came to America, I told myself ‘if it doesn’t work out here, it’ll just be a vacation’” Salvadore says. “I worked in six different places my first year here. This guy hired me to help open a restaurant in January of that year. It didn’t end up opening until May, so in between that time, he had me helping out his friends in different restaurants all over town for anywhere between two weeks and two months at a time. Once the restaurant where I was working opened in May, I worked there for six months, then I moved back to Italy. Everything here was all too much for me.”
Salvadore’s return to Italy, however, didn’t last long.
“You grow to miss America,” Salvadore says. “Your mentality in your career changes when you get to America. You become open to more challenges. There’s a lot more competition in Dallas’s restaurant industry, but there are also a lot more opportunities to thrive.”
Salvadore cites American eating habits as major factors in his decision to return to the states.
“In Italy, they go out to eat for special occasions, like birthdays,” Salvadore says. “Americans eat out seven days a week. There are a lot of people here who don’t mind spending money on different products, therefore, it is easier to work and make money here.”
Since Il Calabrese’s opening in 2014, Salvadore has certainly proven that by being open to challenges and new ideas, one will most certainly see success. Il Calabrese offers a variety of Italian dishes with ingredients sourced directly from Italy.
Il Calabrese is located at 1281 E State Hwy 114, Southlake, TX 76092. They are open seven days a week, from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.