A restaurant can attract no better clientele than gays and lesbians, says Dallas businessman Alvin Granoff
, who operates Eccolo Ristorante Enoteca on McKinney Avenue."What is cool in America is generally determined by the gay and lesbian community," said Granoff
, formerly a Dallas lawyer, a 12-year member of the Texas House of Representatives
and the managing partner of the Stoneleigh Hotel
, of which he
still owns an interest."There's no other group that is as knowledgeable about food and culture."To that end, Eccolo is becoming something of a gay and lesbian hangout, and the restaurant is giving back to the community, Granoff
said.The restaurant stayed open on Thanksgiving and will again on Christmas Day, donating 10 percent of its total proceeds to AIDS Services of Dallas, he
said.Eccolo, which opened in April and serves provincial Italian food, will host Razzle Dazzle Dallas' Home for the Holiday's Ticket Distribution Party on Dec. 12.Needy people with AIDS who are in the final stages of the disease will be given tickets to visit family and friends.Granoff
can always be counted on to help out with charitable causes, said Stacey Dolezal, a Razzle Dazzle Dallas board member.
As a legislator, Granoff
worked closely with gay state Rep.
In 1993, Granoff
bought into the Stoneleigh Hotel
finalized plans to open Eccolo late last year, Granoff
flew the next day to Italy, where he
met the chef, Richard Robbins, who obtained a Master's in Italian Cuisine in cooking school in Rome.They traveled together around Italy sampling foods and getting ideas for the new restaurant.Alessio Franceschetti, another Dallas restraunteur who formerly operated Alessio's on Lomo Alto next to the Tabu Room, is also a partner in the restaurant's operation.Robbins, Alessio and Granoff
jointly decide the restaurant's course.
The result is a sophisticated menu with regional specialities from across Italy, Granoff
said.Every piece of pasta is made from scratch in Eccolo's kitchen with Italian equipment, he
said.A favorite dinner among the clientele's regulars, who Granoff
describes as hip and affluent, is Chilean Sea Bass.Although the restaurant tends to attract a wealthy clientele, partly because of its proximity to Highland Park, "it really is not that expensive," Granoff
vision for the restaurant is a simple one."It's a quick trip to Italy," Granoff
said."If you can't get to Italy this week, this is the next best thing."