Tim Love inadvertently caused a ruckus on the internet when news came out that his latest restaurant, a classic Italian dining room in the Fort Worth Stockyards, would require diners to relinquish their cell phones while they eat. Never mind what the internet had to say about it, the skepticism from his wife of 23 years, Emilie, and his staff was what really got to him.
So, since the dishes at Caterina’s won’t be covering Instagram prolifically (the staff will provide diners with photos of their food on request after the meal), Eater Dallas talked to Love about his favorite plates on the menu and how they came together.
Beef Carpaccio Piedmontese
“I’ve had a million beef carpaccios in my life. We wanted to create one that was a little bit indulgent and this particular dish has more to it than meets the eye. This one has a black truffle emulsion and paint a thin layer on a very cold plate. Then, we shave the beef and layer that on the cold plate, hit it with some salt and pepper, and tap that with fresh chives, shaved cremini mushrooms, and baby greens dressed in a lemon vinegar, top that with gremolata made with dried focaccia, pecorino cheese, and lemon zest. We finish it with fresh Parmesan and shaved truffle on top table side. Most of the time when you have beef carpaccio, it’s a soft texture. The gremolata gives it a surprising crunch.”
“You don’t see escolar on very many menus. We make a margarita, for lack of better words — we call it a citrus granita. I’m a lifetime margarita fan, any version of it. That gives it a little nod to Texas, which I like. We shave that granita with a microplane over the top of the sliced fish and add a fine dice of avocado, plus an oil made with Calabrian chili and a little salt. This is a sleeper dish on the menu that most people don’t go for unless we sell it to them.
“White fish and citrus is one of my favorite combinations. When you get this dish, it’s so cold. I love seafood as an antipasto, but I like eating something bright and acidic before I start indulging in the richness of of Italian food.“
Coniglio en Agrodolce
“I can’t open a restaurant without some sort of game on the menu. This dish was developed by culinary director Jason Chaya. After I write menus, we have discussions and ask, ‘Do we want to be sweet, do we want it to be spicy, do we want to be crunchy?’ I wanted it to be sweet, sour, and very unusual. After I wrote down Coniglio en Agrodolce, he wrote out three versions of what he thinks that is. I came back and said, ‘no, no, yes.’
“It’s half a rabbit in this stew made with pancetta, sour cherries, golden raisins, pine nuts, and some dark chocolate, kind of a sweet and sour Italian mole. It’s a low and slow dish. We dust the rabbit with Wondra flour and pan fry it first to give the outside crunchy skin. The stew with pancetta starts with a mirepoix using juniper berries, black peppercorns, and thyme sprigs reduced with golden balsamic vinegar. Then we add the ingredients, plus more chicken stock. We sit the rabbit back in and serve it in this beautiful copper pot. It’s bone in, so it’s a little bit tough to eat in the sense that you have to cut around that. We call it a working dish.”
“Caterina’s is named after my late sister Kathleen, who passed away a couple of years ago. I’m the youngest of seven kids, with three brothers and three sisters. The sister who is closest to me, her name’s Alison, and she gets jealous pretty easily, so I had to name a dish for her [laughs]. She’s blond, so I wanted it to be a light and bright dish.
“We poached a lobster quickly and pull the meat from the shells. We split the tail, and then we rub the main claws and the tail meat with preserved lemon. We grill it using super high heat on cast iron — the claws, the tails, everything. We put the knuckle meat aside while making a sweet corn ravioli with ricotta that we call peaches and cream, using sweet corn out of Iowa. Then we make a rich parmesan cream sauce with the knuckle meat that goes with the ravioli.”
“We take a 16 ounce pork chop, pull the double bone off, and pound the loin out to be super thin — just like veal picatta. Dust it and flour and add butters, garlic, and shallots and then and lots of lemon, white wine, and capers and put it on a plate with grilled lemon and this beautiful sauce has been mounted with a little bit of butter. We braise the bone side for six hours, then chill it, dust in a seasoned cornstarch, and deep fry it. It comes out as the greatest set of pork ribs.”