Mangia, ’Burbanites

The DeVivo brothers offer rustic comfort food with style.
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Posted June 19, 2013 by LAURIE BARKER JAMES in Eats
Funky and chunky: DeVivo’s spaghetti and meatballs keep company with a stuffed artichoke. Lee ChastainFunky and chunky: DeVivo’s spaghetti and meatballs keep company with a stuffed artichoke. Lee Chastain

Siblings John and Ralph DeVivo have combined skills they honed in previous careers to create the eatery that bears their name. John got his culinary degree and experience the hard way –– starting at El Centro College’s culinary program and working his way up. He’s in the back, cooking up a storm. Ralph’s more of a front-of-the-house guy. Together, the two have created a beautiful, casual, family-friendly restaurant.

The sign on Keller’s Main Street advertises “rustic comfort food.” The menu is heavy on Mediterranean eats (homage to the DeVivo’s Italian roots), but there’s some depth to the offerings. (Sadly, my dining partner and I arrived too late to get anything off the breakfast menu. The blueberry omelet, with blueberry pork sausage and potato hash, sounded amazing, as did the prosciutto panini.) But we soldiered on with the lunch menu, starting with the hummus. The appetizer is definitely homemade, with chunks of garbanzo beans for texture and subtly flavored with just enough, but not too much, garlic. Instead of pita chips, buttery Texas toast accompanied the dish.

Much of the menu is scratch-cooked. As a result, your dining experience may be a little leisurely –– although the staffers were fast enough to serve what looked like half the Keller Fire Department the day we were there. The lunch-size order of spaghetti and meatballs was plenty generous. The meatballs (smaller than tennis balls but bigger than golf balls) were light and tasty, but they contained whole pieces of basil, which got in the way. Fortunately, they were easy to pick out. The marinara was fresh and heavy on the chopped tomatoes, perfect for dipping the leftover bread from the hummus appetizer. If you’re not a fan of chunky spaghetti sauce, go with something else. There’s fettuccine alfredo, pasta carbonara in creamy white-wine sauce, and a rich pesto from which to choose.

The fish tacos were a delight: fresh poached white fish (not catfish or tilapia) served on tasty, thick, soft corn tortillas with crunchy green cabbage and a little cilantro. A delicate sour cream-based sauce added a little moisture without overwhelming any of the individual elements or making it sloppy and drippy. The tacos –– simple and fresh, not spicy or fussy –– came with some decent black beans and somewhat unnecessary white rice. You’d have to travel far away from Keller to find fish tacos this good.

The one flaw in the lunch (and it was minor) was the spinach salad. Neither spectacular nor completely horrible, it was just too much spinach and not enough egg, mushroom, and all of the other goodies that make a spinach salad worthwhile.

What John DeVivo can’t create in the kitchen, the brothers try to buy locally. The strawberry shortcake is a good example: The dessert featured a generous scoop of Plano-based Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream atop the shortbread crust and under the homemade whipped cream and sliced strawberries. The ice cream tasted like an Italian wedding cake shot. There was a vanilla base but something else in the sweetness that made it fabulous. I’m a lifelong fan of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, but Henry’s is better. The combination of sweet, cool, and crunchy made for a nice end to a pleasant meal.

Currently, the eatery is BYOB (beer and wine). In Italian, there are at least 10 words that translate to “happy.” At DeVivo’s, you may find yourself using all of them after a meal.

 

DeVivo Bros. Eatery

750 S Main St, Ste 165, Keller. 817-431-6890. 7am-3pm Sun, 7am-9pm Mon-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.

Hummus …………………………………. $6

Spinach salad …………………………. $6

Fish tacos ………………………………. $11

Lunch spaghetti and meatballs ….. $8

Strawberry shortcake ……………… $4

 


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