Here’s a look at the new Italian restaurant that opened quietly in downtown Fort Worth

June 1,2021


See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Bud Kennedy here.

Rarely does a new restaurant open without weeks of publicity and hullabaloo.

But il Modo, opening Wednesday in a new Main Street hotel, has quietly set up shop to become downtown Fort Worth’s destination for Italian food.

The location is perfect: 714 Main St., on the corner facing Grace, Capital Grille and the steakhouse row known as the “beef block.”

“There was a need for Italian food in Fort Worth,” said chef Matt Williams, a product of Chicago Italian restaurants such as Bar Siena.

In the first-floor corner of the Kimpton Harper hotel, a long-ago bank and recent XTO Energy building converted for the San Francisco-based Kimpton chain, il Modo centers around pasta-making.

Diners have a panoramic view of the pasta-making tables and drying racks, and il Modo plans in-house pasta lessons.

That translates into a lot of pastas on the menu, along with fresh seafood, mussels and a wagyu rib-eye steak with roasted garlic.

“The owners dedicated so much space to pasta production — they really want this to stand out from other restaurants,” Williams said.

There isn’t much local competition at this level right now. The closing a year ago of La Piazza, the city’s only fine-dining Italian restaurant, and downtown’s Taverna left Piattello Italian Kitchen as the city’s most prominent Italian restaurant, with a nod to Nonna Tata’s homestyle pastas and Gemelle’s pizzas.

Pizza is not on the menu at il Modo, although there will be a less expensive lunch menu with sandwiches and salads. A brunch will be considered later, Williams said.

The hotel also has a penthouse bar, Refinery 714. It has a full 180-degree streetscape of Main Street, the courthouse and Fort Worth Convention Center, including a view looking down on the rooftop bar at the nearby Sinclair.

Moving to Texas has been a culture shock for the il Modo chef, accustomed to operating in Chicago’s tall towers.

“The buildings are smaller here but everybody is really nice — honestly, everybody is so friendly,” he said. “In Chicago, you don’t walk down the street with strangers saying, ‘Hello’ and ‘Good morning’ and ‘Have a good day.’ “

He’s met chef Blaine Staniford and owner Dain Adam Jones at nearby Grace, one of the city’s finest restaurants, along with Ellerbe Fine Foods and Paris 7th.

“They’re great guys,” he said. “And I’m very curious about barbecue.”

(That research might take longer.)

So far, il Modo is open nightly; 817-332-7200, theharperfortworth.com.