Luxury Abounds at New Italian Restaurant Dea by Dallas’ Inwood Village

The countdown has started for DEAthe new Italian restaurant opened near the village of Inwood in Dallas by acclaimed restaurateurs Tracy Moore Rathbun and Lynae Fearing.

Dea is moving into the former Fireside Pies space at 7709 Inwood Rd., and is slated to open in mid-September – right next to their beloved Asian restaurant Shinsei and a short walk from their Lovers Seafood restaurant. & Market.

“We’ve always had our eye on space, and when it became available, we felt compelled to do it, only because if we didn’t, someone else would,” said said Rathbun. “But we also felt that there would be a great opportunity for synergy between the three restaurants. One of our priorities, one of the things that makes us special, is that we are there in our restaurants. We are part of the team. Having this proximity, where you can go from restaurant to restaurant every evening, is so precious.”

Dea is Italian for “goddess” – fitting for Rathbun and Fearing, whose hospitality skills have won them a devout following from Preston Hollow neighbors and foodies alike. The menu is still being finalized but will be Italian focused with some truly authentic dishes.

The chef is Roman Murphy, currently at Lovers Seafood and previously at North Italia as well as a number of prestigious restaurants in Austin including Isla, Jeffrey’s, Peche, Congress and Sandra Bullock’s Bess Bistro.

There will be classic pasta such as

  • cacio and pepe
  • Bolognese with Ground Beef and Spicy Italian Sausage
  • sponge cake with end of rib
  • arrabbiata pasta

There will be a daily Risotto with seasonal ingredients and at least five salads including arugula, Caesar, burrata, beet salad and an Italian salad with olives, tomatoes, salumi and pecorino in a roasted garlic vinaigrette.

Starters include seared salmon with mushroom risotto, Prince Edward Island mussels, scallops with white bean cassoulet, roast chicken with potatoes and broccolini, and halibut with chili and orange glaze, served with farro, a nubby grain that is a favorite in Italy.

Desserts are irresistible and rustic: chocolate tart with salted butter caramel, olive oil cake, apple crostata and panna cotta.

“But it will be the same as we always have been – we don’t feel the need to be pigeonholed,” Rathbun said.

Tiles and textures
The pizza oven was about the only thing they kept from Fireside Pies. The space has also been transformed, with a redesign that encompasses a stunning pastiche of muted colors and textures.

“Texture was a priority,” says Rathbun.

You enter the building from the side – the street-facing facade is splashed with an eye-catching floral mural by Alli Koch, making the restaurant easy to spot as you pass.

The bar takes up the front half of the space, with the dining room and kitchen to the rear, surrounded by a bay window so you can see without needing to hear. On the periphery of this window is another bar with ample seating for casual dining, where foodies can grab a bite to eat while watching the fray.

The overall interior is divided into two spaces, bar and dining room, by a narrow floor-to-ceiling wine cellar that resembles a wall. The interior is temperature controlled and backed by cork panels.

Small touches of casual luxury abound, like the wicker wrapped around the stems of the dining room wall sconces, or the shiny brass footstool that runs around the bar.

Nothing is matchy-matchy. There’s something intuitive and a bit old-world about the mishmash, like the underside of the bar, with wicker ovals set against muted tweed floral fabric.

Mirrors are one thing, and murals too, and there’s tiling, tiling, everywhere: a small tiling on the bar floor, done in a vermilion red and white; geometric blue and white tiles that look almost floral, in arched windows; glazed ocean green glass tiles that surround the kitchen (semi-enclosed); and black and white marble checkerboard tiling on the floor.

“We did it in honor of the fact that Italians love tiles,” says Rathbun.

Like Shinsei next door, Dea has a space on the second floor that they outfitted in sexy teals and midnight blues. It will serve as an overflow space but can also be rented for private events.

Rathbun closes his eyes when asked how much has been spent.

“A lot – but these days having a nice space is so important, otherwise people stay at home,” she says. “Obviously the food has to be great, but you also have to give them a nice destination where they want to come.”

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