Eats Beat

Coming downtown: Oven and Cellar, new Italian by owner of Wicked Butcher & Wild Salsa

Two new restaurants by the Dallas-based owner of Wild Salsa are coming to downtown Fort Worth.

Oven and Cellar, a family-style Italian restaurant featuring finer pizza-and-pasta, will open at 150 Throckmorton St. next door to Wild Salsa and corporate cousin Chop House Burger.

All three restaurants are owned by DRG Concepts, which also will open Wicked Butcher this fall in the lobby and basement of The Sinclair, Autograph Collection. a new hotel opening this fall at 512 Main St.

Oven and Cellar will premiere in Fort Worth, said DRG executive Nafees Alam.

“It’s a restaurant with shared plates, for groups coming to have good wine, great pizza, great pasta and a good time,” he said.

Oven and Cellar fills the City Place corner opposite Wild Salsa, where Avanti went dark months ago.

Wild Salsa is a distinctive Mex-Mex restaurant with good entrees and margaritas, but not everybody finds it on the now-open West Second Street patio-walkway between the Renaissance Worthington and the Fort Worth Public Library.

“We said, let us take it and get the lights turned on,” Alam said.

“We think we can bring something different downtown and get more traffic over this way.”

His biggest challenge is timing the two openings.

Wicked Butcher must open the same day at the Sinclair. His staff will face an onslaught of local residents checking out the rooftop view, the streetside dining room or the speakeasy-like lower level.

He hopes to open Oven and Cellar soon afterward.

You’ve probably read about Wicked Butcher. It’ll serve seafood and dry-aged beef comparable to DRG’s Dallas restaurants, Dallas Chop House and Dallas Fish Market.

The breakfast and lunch counter and dining area are taking shape in the picture windows at Fifth and Main streets. (That’s where the Picchi Pacchi pizza restaurant was before it moved to 411 West Seventh St.)

Downstairs, Wicked Butcher’s bar and dinner restaurant fills the lower level of the hotel, a converted Art Deco office landmark.

The top-floor bar will serve a sunny Sunday brunch buffet that should quickly gain fame this fall It’ll also serve weeknight appetizers.

Reservations are available beginning Nov. 24, but the hotel is expected to open sooner;

Oven and Cellar will be next to Wild Salsa, open weekdays and Saturdays, and Chop House Burger, open daily; and

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.