Homemade Pasta and Craft Cocktails in The Heart of Fort Worth, Texas
I am in a constant state of craving Italian food. But not just any Italian food. It has to be Italian food from Italy. Visiting Italy ruined me for life. Every time I eat Italian food outside of Italy (which is, you know, always), I’m the insufferable person at the table who sighs, “It’s good, but it’s not like those gnocchi I had in Siena.”
I’m here to report that I’ve been saved. Il Modo (Italian for “The Way”) on the ground floor of the new Kimpton Harper Hotel in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, the most charming big city/small town south of Dallas, serves homemade pasta so delicious, I almost cried eating my linguini with clam sauce. Il Modo is swanky and pretty—the lighting dims over the vintage tile flooring, the diners dressed to impress in their finery and cowboy hats. It’s one of those restaurants with a sexy bar scene, everyone drinking craft cocktails, the bartenders in crisp white button-downs.
Chef Matt Williams cooked for years in Chicago at beloved Italian restaurants, including Mino’s Italian, Bar Siena, and The Florentine, and his expertise in Italian cuisine is obvious. He sources locally, the produce is fresh and seasonal, and the menu is no-frills, each dish showcasing its beautiful ingredients, rather than hiding behind over-the-top cooking techniques. Think roasted chicken, grilled filet, poached shrimp with a bit of cocktail sauce. On the appetizer menu, the crispy calamari offers the perfect texture. Calamari is hard to pull off—often way too chewy, almost bouncy. Il Modo’s calamari is soft and just right, complemented by a spicy Pomodoro dipping sauce. The burrata is creamy and decadent, contrasting the warm crunch of grilled sourdough bread.
The coolest thing about this upscale Italian eatery is the pasta-making room, a glass-walled nook that allows diners to watch the chef making pasta from scratch. Pasta dough hangs from wooden racks shaped into linguine, Fettucine, spaghetti. That fresh pasta is available for purchase. So are on-site pasta-making classes. The pasta-making room doubles as a private chef’s table: larger parties can reserve it in advance, provide their dietary restrictions, and enjoy a tasting menu (chef’s choice) with wine pairings.
But back to the food, please: It would be a shame not to order the fresh, sweet crab legs from the raw bar. It would also be a shame not to try a couple of concoctions from the innovative cocktail list. The bartenders are well trained in craft cocktail-making and can whip up those complicated recipes that always seem sort of impossible. Consider the Zippa: gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, Cocchi americano, and absinthe. Or the Queen of Salerno: Amaretto, triple sec, lemon juice, angostura bitters, and soda water.
The real shame would be skipping dessert. Come on, you’re basically in Italy, so choose from the daily selection of gelato and don’t miss the tiramisu with espresso-soaked ladyfingers and Madagascar vanilla bean whipped cream.
If you can handle one more nightcap, take the hotel elevator up to the penthouse to whiskey bar Refinery 714 and enjoy a single malt with a 360-degree view of downtown twinkling through the windows. Ok, it’s not Italy, but it’s abbastanza meraviglioso.
Or as Texans might say, it’s good as all get-out.