Denton County Magazine May-June 2019

Page 30

DINING Salerno’s, beloved Flower Mound Italian eatery, relocates to Highland Village to continue building a family legacy. BY ELLEN RITSCHER SACKETT

Buon Appetito!


t took no time for customers to find the new Salerno’s Restaurant and Bar in Highland Village. After nearly 35 years in its original Flower Mound address, the iconic Italian hotspot moved to its new location off Justin Road in mid-February. Fans followed, and the new location is as popular as ever. During peak times, diners can expect a wait (or try to snag a spot at the bar), but Salerno’s devotees don’t seem to mind. The spacious dining room and cozy bar are abuzz with chatter, clatter and a playlist that favors Ol’ Blue Eyes. Framed photos of the Salerno family through the generations preside over the restaurant, artfully arranged on crimson-red walls. Hungry guests fill tables and black

All in the Famiglia The owners, cousins Morris and Mike Salerno, are nearly always present, greeting guests, many of whom are also friends. “Our dads were brothers. Every holiday, we were always together,” Mike says. While growing up in Dallas, they talked about opening a restaurant. Their venture had family support, including start-up money borrowed from grandparents and a staple of recipes that serve as menu pillars. Sicilian Grandma Salerno is credited for the meatballs, pizza sauce, Italian

sausage, lasagna, chocolate pie, mogia and suga. (Mogia is a savory olive-oil marinade that doubles as dipping sauce. Suga is a rich, slow-simmered marinara that is vegetarian, gluten-free and an essential ingredient for many of Salerno’s dishes.) New creations such as the Italian fried steak and Italian-style pork chop and menu mainstays such as the pecan chicken and Chicken Lillian (named after Morris’ sister) belong solely to Morris. “He has God-given talent,” Mike says, of his cousin’s culinary skills. Both men had plenty of experience when they opened Salerno’s. Mike was a high school coach who always loved the restaurant industry. He gained managerial know-how at the Alamo Café

“When someone walks through the door, our goal is to make them a customer for life.” Photos by Ellen Ritscher Sackett

Salerno’s kitchen staff (left to right): Jose Sanchez, Morris Salerno, Beto Cendijas and Tomas Leonelli

upholstered booths while waiters deliver heaping bowls of pasta, made-to-order entrées, pizza, irresistible desserts and perfectly chilled, keg-tapped wine.


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