Kari and I both have loved going to Bari’s for great Italian food for years. It’s a local staple in Kari’s life and she even has a sister who will drive an hour from Mansfield just for their delicious rolls. But we realize that perhaps not everyone is as familiar with Bari’s as we are! So, this week we decided to take on a Flower Mound institution and met with some business partners at Bari’s for a delicious lunch.
When we walked in the door, owner Sebian Bardhi greeted us, welcoming us to her family’s restaurant. And she told us the story of how her family got involved in the restaurant business. When Sebian was 12 years old, her family immigrated to New York from Bari, Italy to pursue a better life for themselves. She grew up with 12 brothers and sisters and some of her earliest memories are of them sleeping on the floor all together enjoying some of her mother’s home cooking.
Sebian’s dad originally took a job working in construction, but felt like there was something else out there for him. So he decided to take a server position at a restaurant in New York and worked his way up through the ranks from there, learning all the ins and outs of the restaurant business. Finally, the Bardhi family moved south to Texas and decided to start their own restaurant business, opening Bari’s here in Flower Mound. Since the opening of Bari’s in 1987, the Bardhi family has opened a total of 25 other restaurants. So, at this point I feel confident in saying they have a good idea of what they’re doing.
Bari’s has a great family feel to it – Mr. and Mrs. Bardhi expect the whole family to help operate the restaurant, so you’re always guaranteed to meet a member of the Bardhi family when you go. The love they have for their business and the food they share with everyone is readily apparent. You can tell that it’s not just food to them – it’s an expression of love and is a reminder of many family memories.
So, as we do when we go into most places, we asked Sebian to bring out some of their most famous dishes. She first brought out some fried zucchini and a margherita pizza sliced Chicago-style. The margherita pizza is one of Kari’s all-time favorites and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s a Bardhi family recipe using olive oil, basil, garlic, fresh sliced tomato and ricotta cheese. And it is delicious. The sliced tomatoes add a perfect lightness and freshness to the pizza.
For our main courses, we ordered the lobster ravioli, Chicken Diablo, Bari’s Salad and baked tortellini – which were all delicious and all recommended by Sebian. They’re especially famous for the lobster ravioli and Chicken Diablo. If you want a little heat to your Italian food, I highly recommend you try out the Chicken Diablo. It has a perfect kick to it.
As we were finishing our lunches, we heard Sebian and a few others singing happy birthday to a wonderful woman who was spending her 90th birthday lunch at Bari’s. I was able to meet Rosalie Saunders and her family and friends who just so happen to be readers of Foodie Friday (shout out)! You know I love to chat with anyone who has that much life experience. And I think any restaurant where someone wants to spend their 90th birthday is definitely a winner.
When I got back to our table, Sebian had brought us a slice of tiramisu. Since I’m not a coffee-drinker myself, I didn’t try any, but one of our business partners did and said it was amazing with the drizzle of espresso over the top of it.
Bari’s really is a Flower Mound institution, so if you’re new to the area or have lived here for years and for some reason haven’t tried it, you really should check it out this weekend. Having been open for more than 25 years, the Bardhi family has created a wonderful atmosphere where you can enjoy their great family recipes. And you can taste the love and passion that goes into every dish they bring out.
Be sure to tell Sebian that Jay Marks sent you in and give her a big hug! Then let me know what you tried and what some of your favorites are!
Have a great weekend, Foodies! Until next week.