Restaurants

SMU Restaurateur With Thomas Keller Experience Makes His Dallas Return Worth It

Inside il Bracco, the Italian Spot That Quickly Made Waves in The Preston Center

BY // 01.06.20

Restaurateur Robert Quick may have attended the Culinary Institute of America in Napa and earned his cred in Thomas Keller’s kitchens at Ad Hoc and Bouchon — but his culinary career really began in Dallas with a part-time job.

“I was the omelet guy at the Dallas Country Club and ran the poolside grill,” he tells PaperCity.

Those DCC days, back when he was an undergrad at Southern Methodist University, sparked Quick’s passion for the culinary world.

He transferred to SMU from Pepperdine University after an injury ended his collegiate water polo career, but cooking was not the only love he found in Dallas. It’s also where he met his wife, Mary Lucille. After graduation, he went back to California and worked with Keller, then managed Hillstone Restaurant Group’s West Coast properties and worked his way up to owner of the successful pizza chain Mountain Mike’s, then sold it.

Along the way, he dreamed of returning to Dallas to open a restaurant of his own. That dream was realized with il Bracco, the first concept from his newly formed restaurant group, Western Addition.

After a great deal of searching, Quick found the ideal business partner in Matt Gottlieb, who spent the last 12 years managing Hillstone and R+D Kitchen, both steps from il Bracco’s location in The Plaza at Preston Center. Their goal was to create a well-rounded menu of elevated Italian classics that would give guests a reason to return multiple times throughout the week.

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“We wanted something the community could use for a business lunch, a special night out, or just a quick drink at the bar and a bite before going home to tuck the kids in,” Quick says.

Since the late spring opening, response to the restaurant has been overwhelming. “I’ve had guests remark that it already feels like it’s been here a long time,” Quick says. “Like it’s an established neighborhood spot.”

Everything is made daily in-house, from the focaccia bread served with the popular meatball appetizer to the sauce for the beef, pork and lamb ragù Bolognese. Standout fresh pasta dishes include the al limone with jumbo shrimp and the traditional cacio e pepe — bucatini simply dressed with pecorino and black pepper.

As for the restaurant’s name: It’s Italian for “the hound” and came to mind while Quick was driving back to town from a hunting trip. It’s also the name of the restaurant’s signature cocktail — an Italian version of the classic greyhound, made with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, Aperol, a little lemon and New Amsterdam gin.

It’s amore.

il Bracco, 8416 Preston Center Plaza, The Plaza at Preston Center, 214.361.0100, ilbraccorestaurant.com.

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