Where Locals Go

DeVivo Bros. Eatery

Review by Frank Geslani | Photos by Lorraine Haan-Stewart

When I was 10 years old, the height of my culinary expertise was microwaving mac-and-cheese out of a box. When John and Ralph DeVivo were 10, they cleaned squid. They cooked pasta that didn’t start with “Kr” and end with “aft.” They helped their mother prepare epic feasts that lured the neighborhood.

Mama would be proud. Today, the brothers are still bringing the neighbors in with bountiful, uncomplicated, soul-stirringly food at their DeVivo Bros. Eatery in Keller. Before I slip into some romanticized version of their Italian-American background, I must disclose that these guys are local. They’re not from Brooklyn as another ill-informed reviewer had written (as if hailing from Brooklyn would somehow explain how perfectly crisp they render breakfast potatoes). They grew up in Texas—and it’s intrinsic in their food.

When I first laid my eyes on the tastefully minimal, light-filled room awash in whites, creams and grays—tactfully designed to make their modern typeface pop and draw you instantly to the chalkboard menu—I thought this was some clever attempt by a massive hospitality chain to introduce a new concept. John and Ralph swear they did all the painting and finishes themselves. The overall design (which is frankly more put-together than most large-firm jobs) was done by John’s wife, Lindsay. The genteel cloches, tantalizing layer cakes atop charming cake stands and handwritten specials read as much “American South” as “Little Italy.” This place defies easy categorization, and that’s a very good thing for lovers of comfort food from all origins.The brothers must have harnessed some kind of wizardry to tap into once-forgotten food memories.

A bite into a simple egg sandwich takes my son back to a family vacation we once took. Strawberry shortcake sends an 80-year-old woman back to her childhood when she picked berries with her mother. A velvety pasta carbonara studded with chunks of crisped ham sends me on an Italian food pilgrimage I have yet to take. They must be wizards.

Part of the magic may be attributed to their ingredients, which the DeVivos try to source as locally as possible. Part of it is their freshness ethic. They make everything by scratch, by hand, on the day, in-house and to order. But the guys say their real secret is love. (And they say it with totally straight faces.) If they are as loving as they are earnest, then you should completely believe them.

A reviewer once wrote that DeVivo Bros. made the best Italian cream cake around. Soon after, they were deluged with orders for Italian cream cake. Only one problem. “We didn’t have Italian cream cake on the menu. We’d never made one before,” says John. Eager to please, they came up with an Italian cream cake anyway. The result: a light, moist cake, restrained in its sweetness, graced with an angelic buttercream—as it turns out, the best Italian cream cake around.

And now, we’re happy to be the first to report that DeVivo Bros. Eatery makes the best squid ink tagliatelle around, too. (Boys, make that happen :)

750 South Main Street | Suite 165 | Keller 76248 | (817) 431-6890 | www.devivobroseatery.com