Last year, Chef Jeff Moschetti pulled a mysterious disappearing act.
In the fall of ’09, we learned that this acclaimed chef was departing the Warwick Melrose Hotel’s Landmark Restaurant, where he’d earned rave reviews. Moschetti, who made a name for himself in Dallas fine dining at Stephan Pyles and Dragonfly, among other well-known restaurants, then fell off the radar for a couple of months.
But the big guy wasn’t just cooling his jets – not by a long shot.
Turns out, Moschetti’s departure from the Landmark came just in time for him to lend a hand with the opening of his old pal Stephan Pyles’ hot new spot Samar downtown. One night, with a nod to fate, he struck up a conversation with visiting restaurateur Alberto Lombardi about the legendary Dallas businessman’s Cole Avenue “small plates” concept, Sangria.
“He wanted to keep [Sangria] global, but I guess it ended up more traditional Spanish tapas,” recalls Moschetti of the challenge facing Lombardi at the young neighborhood café. Decreased traffic and dishes that failed to encompass the scope of everything the Mediterranean has to offer pointed toward a need for new talent in Sangria’s kitchen. Inspired, Moschetti signed on in November as Executive Chef to retool the menu and help refocus the restaurant as a whole.
The result is an array of tempting new dishes – and the unexpected surprises don’t stop there.
Chef Jeff, as he’s known, has added flavors from Greece, France and even Northern Africa to Sangria’s tapas lineup. “What I’m doing now,” he explains, “is more of a global approach.” Spanakopita, for example, the traditional Greek spinach and filo pie, has been a big hit with diners. Another popular new entry is the Trio of Dips, which includes Middle Eastern favorites like hummus and baba ghanoush. Francophiles can enjoy sophisticated dishes like Escargot or Forest Mushroom Gratin with black truffle butter.
Beyond these new tastes, Sangria has also introduced a weekly lineup of live entertainment including a classical guitarist, D.J.’s. and – hold on to your hats - a belly dancer.
As it should be, however, certain crowd-pleasers have stayed the same, such as Sangria’s classic Garlic Shrimp, weekend brunch and Tuesday’s popular half-price bottled wine night. Still wallet-friendly as well, a wide range of the restaurant’s dishes ring in well below $10.
Since signing on for this new casual, high-energy gig, the former fine dining chef seems relaxed and happy and he’s quick to crack jokes with his laid-back staff. Moschetti also notes the “beautiful” crowd at Sangria, now gradually increasing in volume, especially on the weekends. Most of all, he explains that “good food is good food” – in other words, you don’t always need a jacket and tie (and overflowing bank account) to enjoy a truly great meal.
Sangria Tapas Y Bar
4524 Cole Ave., Dallas