It’s been almost a year since industry veteran Sam Governale — who was most recently operating partner at Fleming’s Steakhouse in River Oaks — announced that he would be opening Emmaline in the former Teala’s space on West Dallas. Now the wait is over.
The stunning new restaurant debuts this week and is all kinds of wonderful. Designed by Ashley Putman and pulling inspiration from iconic places such as The Ivy in West Hollywood, from its soaring windows that frame the downtown skyline, to the large rectangular bar that dominates the central space, to the garden room that is perfect for brunch, to the umbrella-covered deck upstairs (where the stage is set for leisurely lounging amid free-flowing libations), from the minute you walk in, you are enveloped by a feeling of warm, welcoming camaraderie.
“In Italy the classic trattoria is the epitome of a neighborhood kitchen, literally serving as the cultural thread for the people in that township. This is my vision for Emmaline, a commitment to our neighbors to be, very simply, a place where we will genuinely care for the well-being of our guests while offering a home-away-from-home experience,” Governale says.
Billed as American with European influence, the menu features wood-grilled items, American classics and lighter Mediterranean fare, with a strong selection of starters meant for sharing. Executive chef Dimitri Voutsinas, a New York city native whose resume includes stints at the famed Russian Tea Room, Bar Boulud by Daniel Boulud and was most recently executive chef at La Gamelle, worked with Governale to create a menu filled with thoughtful selections that you can revisit regularly.
Starters such as the fontina fondue, eggplant caponata, scallop carpaccio with citrus accents, grilled asparagus with prosciutto and charbroiled oysters and pearls showcase quality ingredients and deft execution.
For the mains, choices range from seafood cioppino; to wood roasted pork with fennel "apple sauce" and glazed root vegetables; to a remarkable vegan dish of Stuffed Peppers with smoked farro, other ancient grains, currants and pine nuts.
Handmade pastas, such as the pappardelle with lamb ragu, fire roasted lobster with squid ink tagliatelle and a selection of pizzas, are easy to share. Those wanting something a little simpler can opt for a salad, burger, chicken salad, or french dip sandwich.
Desserts, overseen by pastry chef Alyssa Dole, include a to-die-for backyard wedding cake, dark chocolate espresso torta and panna cotta with citrus.
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Beautiful vintage plate ware, friendly service and a wine list featuring approximately 200 reasonably priced selections — curated by Governale himself — are among the special touches that make dining at Emmaline an absolute pleasure.
Emmaline is located at 3210 West Dallas and is open for lunch and dinner, Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday to Saturday open until midnight. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Sunday Table, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. For more information or reservations, visit: dineemmaline.com.