After one visit to Calabrese Italian restaurant, you’ll already be planning your next trip back. The pastas are made fresh, in-house, and chef/owner Luciano Salvadore is known for sourcing the best, most authentic ingredients directly from Italy for the mouthwatering dinner, lunch and brunch dishes he creates.
The wines, too, are special, from interesting California vintages and some of the biggest name Italian pours to small boutique wines you won’t find anywhere else. In recognition of these fine taste choices, the restaurant has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for three years in a row.
Calabrese has been a Southlake tradition for almost 11 years. Many original customers from when the restaurant first opened are still frequent diners today.
The team is passionate about bringing people together, celebrating life and sharing Italian traditions. The restaurant’s philosophy is that family and friends are best brought together by outstanding food and drink.
That commitment to friendship and hospitality keeps guests coming back time after time. The face of the restaurant is owner Oscar Renda’s daughter Natalie, who greets every guest with a smile and a warm welcome.
“We get to know our guests and their families by name; we really connect with them,” notes Shawn Horne, director of operations. “We want to make their experience memorable each time they visit. When the bartenders see our regulars coming, they start making their favorite cocktails.”
Calabrese has cashmere pashminas available if you get a chill, spare reading glasses and other extras to make guests’ experiences more comfortable.
The restaurant even offers custom golf cart shuttles around the Southlake Town Square area.
A favorite feature of this family-owned/family-run restaurant is its design.
“It’s very inviting when you walk in. We work hard to celebrate the upscale Italian lifestyle,” Shawn notes.
There’s a bar-in-the-round and an air conditioned/heated patio open throughout the year. Overall, the restaurant provides a serene, peaceful environment.
Up the spiral staircase, customers can relax while watching the kitchen staff flip pizzas or enjoy a drink and a bite on the open-air deck. Locals rave about the chef’s cauliflower pizza crust and vegan pasta choices that taste delicious and accommodate different food preferences.
Special event space is available on both levels.
The Calabrese team is also active in charity work.
Chef Luciano cooked for 1,000 guests at this year’s American Heart Association Côtes du Coeur ultimate culinary experience fundraiser in Dallas. Calabrese partners with Mid Cities SOS in support of Safe Haven of Tarrant County. Shawn represents Calabrese on the Kids Matter International board of directors and is an advisory board member of the Me Squared Cancer Foundation.
Calabrese works with the local Kidney Foundation’s Bonne Santé premiere culinary fundraising event, where Chef Luciano and other fine chefs served nearly 500 guests this year. The restaurant also helps Southlake’s Loving Long Ears Donkey Therapy & Sanctuary, donating tubs of ice throughout the summer to keep these healing therapy animals cool during Texas’ hottest temperatures. Calabrese is involved in the Dallas Cowboys “Taste of the Cowboys” event supporting the North Texas Food Bank.
The restaurant also supports the special needs community through Mickie’s Miracles and the Children’s Health Epilepsy Center. Calabrese additionally supports groups like the Southlake Carroll Booster Club and recently provided lunch to the United Methodist First Responders Training Program.
“We are always happy to help,” says general manager Brian Launius. “We’re committed to giving back to the community.”
Staying strong during tough times
The restaurant takes pride in the fact that operations never closed during the community shutdowns of COVID-19.
“We delivered pizzas and pastas, provided takeout and donated meals to surrounding-area hospitals, police and fire departments,” Brian notes.
Everyone stayed busy, so no employees were laid off during this time.
Oscar’s thought was, “We’re going to make sure everybody has food on their table, whether it comes from our kitchen or whether they’re making a living here in our kitchen,” Chef Luciano remembers.
This caring family attitude has kept staff turnover low. Some of the kitchen staff have worked with the chef for as many years as the restaurant has been open.
“When people are happy to be here and enjoy what they do, it’s obvious,” Brian says. “We consider ourselves one big family, from management and staff to customers and the community.”
“People will always remember how you make them feel. Our unique connection with customers is an extension of family – from our family to theirs.” - Shawn Horne, director of operations