First Look: Graffiti Spaghetti in Denton Square


Graffiti Spaghetti in Denton Square has big shoes to fill. Former tenant J&J’s Pizza has been a reliable place to eat pizza for 24 years, while the basement below Ol’ Dirty Basement is a DIY concert hall that has become a local music legend. There was some panic in the plaza last summer when they announced they were closing due to rising rents.

Now a new restaurant has opened. Graffiti Pasta still has some window art from previous tenants and is a vibrant ode to Dentons and Pasta. Graffiti covers nearly all visible walls, benches and tables – except for the original stone wall, which remains untouched.

During their first week in business, we came by every night and received a warm greeting and attentive service from Jon Harwell at the bar.

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The space has a pop culture theme from the 80s and 90s.

Daniel Rodrigue

A-ha’s “Take on Me” drew our attention to two large flat-screen TVs above the bar playing music videos from the ’80s and ’90s.And a colorful nod Back to the Future II displayed behind the bar. Small jars on the bar hold silverware, fancy napkins and chopsticks.

The menu is based on a recipe from owner Anthony “Tony” Morel’s Sicilian grandmother, with some modern decor. “She taught the whole family how to cook,” Morrell explained as she set the plates and brought them to the table. “I never met her, but I learned the recipe.”

The menu is still expanding and developing, with some items added and replaced during the first few weeks of service. A butter and vanilla loaf knot was added later in the week, it wasn’t printed on the menu, and it wasn’t available a few days before ordering.

We’re ready to hype Tortellini al Denton, the first week of delicious cheesy tortellini served with a creamy pesto sauce and topped with fresh chopped basil. By the following week, the tortellini were gone, replaced by pasta, described as fresh spinach pasta in pesto.

Click to enlarge Doodle Meatballs - DANIEL RODRIGUE

Doodle Meatballs

Daniel Rodrigue

Graffiti Meatballs come from the kitchen, swimming steamy in homemade marinara.

“It’s delicious, and I don’t like meatballs,” Kathy Brown, a customer sitting at the bar during one of our visits, said of Graffiti Meatballs and Banksy’s Baked Ziti. Brown, who manages a cafeteria, is “picky and hard to please,” but she plans to return for another meal soon. In fact, we spotted her on the return trip on Thursday.

Click to enlarge Calabrese Caprese - Daniel Rodrigo

Calabrese Caprese

Daniel Rodrigue

A standout dish is the Calabrese Caprese with heirloom cherry tomatoes, smoked mozzarella balls, Calabrese chili oil, fresh-cut basil, and homemade pesto, finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. The pesto and chili oil combine for a fiery flavor that will make you want to eat another bowl.

We also recommend the Sideways Mac Attack, which is made with cavatappi (corkscrew) noodles wrapped in a homemade Italian cheese sauce and topped with cheese and herb panko toppings. This is probably our favorite macaroni and cheese in town.

Graffiti Pasta has more than a dozen canned and bottled beers to choose from, including Italian staple Peroni. The wine list includes champagne, prosecco, some whites and reds, all sold by the glass ($5-11) or by the bottle ($20-50). Harwell has “rough” classic Negronis and black walnut Manhattans.

As for the music scene below, it’s a work in progress. The first concert is scheduled for May 7, according to Don D’Amico, who is in charge of bookings. Their online calendar has more details.

The website states that they only offer dinner service at the moment, but plan to have regular hours of operation from 10am to 2am, with the kitchen closing at 10pm; and the bar serving drinks until 2am. Check their Facebook page for updates before heading out.

Graffit Pasta, 118 W. Oak St. (Denton)



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