The owners of the Charles wereted no time in making their new Italian-Mediterranean restaurant, Sister, feel right at home on Greenville Avenue.
It had been open for less than 24 hours when I walked in, but it’s designed to look like it’s been part of the neighborhood for decades. There are wall plates, floral wallpaper, and curved purple banquettes where groups of four can crowd for a cozy dinner of shared appetizers, pasta, and wine.
“We wanted it to be warm and welcoming. It had to be a trattoria, ”explains Managing Partner Chas Martin. They like those words “ish”: it’s an Italian restaurant, run by a team of people who are not Italian but who love Italian cuisine.
That old-fashioned vibe was almost essential in a space like 2808 Greenville Ave. : For 47 years, The Grape stood, a lovely bistro. It closed at the end of 2019 and the aging building needed a facelift. Developer Mike Ablon bought the building (you know his name because he ran for mayor in 2019). The restaurant has been under construction for over a year.
“The Grape has been a cultural institution in the Lower Greenville neighborhood for over four decades. Our intention was to preserve the building and the neighborhood, and to bring in Dallas’ best talent to design the space for decades to come, ”said Ablon.
Sister doesn’t have The Grape’s tight corners, white tablecloths, or yellow lighting. But maybe you can still feel his spirit.
Sister isn’t a relocated version of The Charles either, Martin points out: it’s in a new neighborhood, and it’s not meant to be a place to see and be seen. So far, none of the Charles menu items have been served at the Sister.
Sister’s menu is more Mediterranean than Charles. The beet and avocado appetizer is one of Executive Chef Matt Gold’s favorite dishes. It’s beautiful, with a purple colored beet and tahini base topped with a crown of avocado, tomatoes, and puffed wild rice.
The chefs are led by Culinary Director J. Chastain. In a healthy twist, his wife Sarah was the chef at the same address when it was The Grape.
Chastain and Gold show interest in going beyond Italy to Sister with the Turkish Kofte. Each beef and lamb patty comes with a compote tomato and garlic sauce called piperade, along with feta and jalapeño.
Haven’t tried them yet, but a small menu of vegetable side dishes looks delicious. There are grilled carrots served with dates, spicy cashews, and whipped feta; fig and pistachio broccolini; and Crispy Jerusalem Artichokes with Green Goddess Dressing.
The pasta is a must. Options include lightly spiced Calabrian pepper ravioli; a boar bolognese; and pappardelle with cacio e pepe cream and mushrooms.
Larger plates like swordfish, grilled lamb’s collar or chicken marsala are all shareable, for those who want to eat as a family.
Interestingly, Chef Gold says he’s the most proud of desserts. The double chocolate bar would be hard to skip: it’s a flourless chocolate cake topped with iced chocolate mousse, toasted meringue, mezcal-cherry mash, and smoked ice cream. It’s as delicious as it sounds, and I can just imagine the people of East Dallas reaching and scratching at the last bites as they watch Greenville Avenue start to pick up after dark.
Sister is one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year in East Dallas, and for months neighbors have been whispering about its debut. Connoisseurs called him Charlie, as if he was The Charles’ little brother. And it’s. But the name didn’t stick.
“It’s a sister restaurant to Charles,” says Martin. “We liked the ambiguity of Sister.”
The sister is at 2808 Greenville Ave., Dallas. Reservations recommended through Resy; seats at the bar are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Sister opened on September 28, 2021.
What’s opening next to Sister on Greenville Avenue?
At the end of 2021, Martin and his team plan to open an Italian café-market. It could be called Duro Provisions, named after the parent company of The Charles and Sister. This may not be the case.
The small 900 square foot cafe will sell sandwiches, coffee, and wine all day.
Guests can also stop to enjoy pasta prepared at the restaurant to make an easy dinner at home.
Duro Provisions (it’s a working name) will be at 2804 Greenville Ave., Dallas, next to Sister.