When Florenc Leshnja and Festim “Tim” Raka opened Gallo Nero Italian Bistro in Frisco, it was neither their first restaurant to open nor their first Gallo Nero.

Thus far, the brothers-in-law have opened 20 restaurants together, many of which are in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The first Gallo Nero was opened in 2017 on lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas followed by the Frisco location in 2020.

“Every restaurant we’ve owned has been away from home,” Leshnja said. “When this place became available, we said we need to make this work; it’s right behind our house.”

Over time, they sold all but four restaurants. They spend their time rotating between the four eateries but said a family member is always on-site at the Frisco business, and Raka’s wife, Ashley Raka, is the manager.

Prior to striking their entrepreneurial partnership, Leshnja and Raka both worked in restaurants while growing up. Leshnja’s family owned an Italian restaurant in Plano for years, and Raka’s aunt owned an Italian restaurant in Lewisville for 32 years.

“That’s where my father worked. I worked there through high school when we first came to the states from Albania. We got firsthand experience of the restaurant industry there,” Raka said. “May 15, 1999, was the first day we were in the United States. I turned 12 two days after I got here.”

Leshnja handles the back of the house while Raka maintains the front of the house. Leshnja said he has incorporated family recipes as well as those he picked up while working in the industry.

“Our vodka sauce is very famous,” Raka said. “Menu highlights are anything in our vodka sauce, like our Chicken Murphy, lobster ravioli, chicken carciofi.”

Leshnja said their business name is based on an Italian tale, The Legend of Gallo Nero, or black rooster. He explained that a boundary dispute was determined by two horsemen, a hungry rooster and a full rooster.

“The black rooster was hungry ... so he woke up and sang very early so their horseman took off and almost made it to the other territory,” Leshnja said. “So the meaning behind choosing this name is, we’re always hungry to achieve something.”

Raka said they enjoy offering their guests continuity in multiple forms, such as consistently serving quality food as well as having staff members who have been with them since they opened.

“Work is work—you have to show up every day and get the work done. We’re willing,” Raka said. “We come from a place where we didn’t have much. To have the opportunity to work, especially in our own business, this is for us and for our families.”

Family favorites
  • Frutti de mare ($21) is a pasta dish featuring mussels, shrimp, clams and scallops in a spicy marinara sauce.
  • Margarita pizza ($16/$21) includes tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil.
  • Chicken Murphy ($18) includes pasta topped with sauteed chicken, mushrooms, onion and jalapenos in vodka sauce.
  • Chicken rigatoni vodka ($18) includes chicken and sauteed spinach in a vodka sauce served on rigatoni pasta.
Gallo Nero Italian Bistro

4851 Legacy Drive, Frisco