Macellaio: The New Restaurant from the Folks that Brought You Lucia

You know the hardest table to get in town? It’s Lucia. For ages, it has been the one restaurant in the city that required careful planning. Call two months ahead for that reservation. Don’t wait until the last minute unless you want to try for the tiny bar seating. (Have a plan B people). Well, the fine folks that brought you the pasta perfection that is Lucia have opened a brand new spot: Macellaio.

Macellaio’s focus is on artisanal Italian meats like your Nona’s butcher used to make. Which explains the name. Macellaio means butcher in Italian. There are some kitschy plastic hams in their window. A little nod to the butcher inspired meats you will find inside. Once you are inside the restaurant, it is less Italian butcher and more California bistro. The big, floor-to-ceiling windows let in lots of light. The tables are small and cozy and the atmosphere, elegant, but relaxed and informal. The hostess greeted us warmly and seated us right away. I wouldn’t count on that being the case these days though. Make a reservation to be sure you get that table and don’t have to work a plan B.

Unique and Eclectic Wine and Cocktails

I’ve been to a lot of very nice restaurants, and I have experienced all kinds of service styles. My favorite style is relaxed, helpful, observant and unobtrusive. It seems as this is the level of service they are striving for at Macellaio. The waiter was familiar with all the dishes. He was very friendly and helpful with the ordering process. We tend to be pretty self-sufficent, and he took his cue from us and shared his ideas when we asked for them. He was not thrown when we asked a technical question about an ingredient. Instead, he got the owner Jennifer Uygur to come by and answer our questions. She was lovely and patient with us, and lord knows she had other priorities! It was a nice moment, and we were so happy she stopped by.

Mrs. Uygur is also responsible for the excellent and eclectic wine menu at Macellaio. You might not recognize everything on there, so be sure and talk to your waiter about what you like so they can guide you to the best pairing for your meal. We did not drink cocktails on our visit. However, the cocktail program headed up by the incomparable Ravinder Singh is lovely. I mean last year the Dallas Observer names him “Best Bartender of the Year.” So not too shabby right? You may have already enjoyed his cocktails. He headed up the bar at Boulevardier and Rapscallion for a time. The cocktail menu is creative and full of unexpected flavor combinations. I am excited to give them a try the next time I visit.

The Food!

Macellaio has two menus: a small plates and mains menu and a salumi menu. If I were you, I would order at least one thing from the salumi menu. (If you are me you will order the Chef’s choice salumi board!) Some of the items on there are works of art. Including meats from heritage breeds like the Texas red wattle pigs. (Saveur even made a case for it being the tastiest breed a few years ago) The day we visited we enjoyed house-made salumi of pork jowl and fennel. It was a little stained-glass window of porky goodness. Pink and white panes of pork crisscrossed across the slice of headcheese. All that pink was set off by delicate green bits of aromatic fennel. Executive Chef, Lance McWhorter, puts out creative salumi. His program delivers on the promise implied by Maciallo’s name.

What We Ate

Daily bread: toasted wheat oat porridge sourdough, focaccia & caraway sourdough

A Bar N beef tartare with olives, anchovy, mustard greens & marrow crostini

Chef’s Choice Salumi Misti Board (Which for us included the below but its Chef’s Choice!)

  • Candy Cap Salame
  • Mortadella smoked, with pistachios
  • Prosciutto whole leg from Red Wattle pork aged over three years at Lucia
  • Capicola mildly spicy brined & smoked Berkshire pork collar
  • Headcheese with fennel (this was Tim’s favorite)

Slow roasted Anson Mills grits with wild mushrooms, poached egg, cacio e pepe broth

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