Owner Brian Black and staff took over his failed Ocho Kitchen & Cocktails venue in Preston Center and reconcepted Mi Piaci, the 22-year-old restaurant that was once the standard for fine Italian in Dallas. Sadly, the cooking is as tired and limp as the withering leeks in tall vases on the tables. Depending on whom you talk to, the original location on Montfort closed or was forced to close. The new two-story, two-patio space in Preston Center is lovely, especially if you sit upstairs on a beautiful night. The roof retracts and exposes the night sky. For us, it was also a front-row seat to the three rear-end collisions on Preston Road below. We ordered carrot soup, the night’s special, and were served lobster bisque. When I brought this to the waiter’s attention, he disagreed with me, even though one of the soup recipients had already informed him he was allergic to shellfish. After I insisted, he grabbed a spoon and took a taste and finally agreed. The same server delivered a regular Coke to a diabetic who ordered Diet Coke. The carrot soup was rich with flavor, but the insalata panzanella was drowning in too much tomato vinaigrette. Nothing else we ordered was memorable: veal scaloppine was tough and served with overcooked spaghetti; too much cream sauce marred the fettucine with hard-to-find prosciutto; Bolognese-style meat sauce was bland. Despite the busy dining room, the waitstaff congregated in the corners while diners signaled for attention. I would go back only to sit on the patio, sip wine, and watch car accidents. The others at my table wouldn’t go back if their lives depended on it.

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