L'Oca d'Oro | Jackie Klusmeyer
Food & Drink

The Best Italian Restaurants in Austin

Updated On 03/02/2018 at 06:22PM EST
Robert Lerma

Juniper

East Cesar Chavez

Executive chef/partner Nicholas Yanes combines inspiration from Northern Italy and Central Texas in Juniper’s refined and accessible menu. The airy puffy potatoes with whipped dijon mustard are a favorite starter, followed by entrees like black linguine (tossed with gulf shrimp, mushroom, and chile) and the 44 Farm NY strip (served with tomato emulsion chunky chimichurri). Juniper also offers perfect cocktails, including the over-the-top, $19 Chef’s Brand New Cadillac negroni made with The Botanist Gin, Campari, Barolo Chinato, and “nice ice.”

Diana Cantu

Andiamo Ristorante

North Burnet

Far from the trendy eateries of downtown and East Austin, this neighborhood spot tucked away in an unassuming strip mall is always full of regulars, and for good reason: owner (and Naples, Italy native) Daniela Marcone combines tried and true family recipes with an unwavering dedication to authenticity and quality. Loyal patrons rave about the ravioli ai funghi​ (homemade mushroom and all-natural Italian ricotta ravioli sauteed with walnuts, dried cranberries, and fresh rosemary in brown butter sauce), and the spaghetti alla carbonara​ (spaghetti sauteed with guanciale, farm cream and farm egg yolk, topped with pecorino cheese). Pro tip: Andiamo offers half-off of select bottles of wine on Wednesdays. So, y'know, go on Wednesdays.

Patrizi's

Patrizi's

Manor Road

Tucked behind Butterfly Bar on bustling Manor Road sits Italian trailer Patrizi’s, which continues a family tradition that began in 1948 with hand-pulled, made-to-order pasta. If you use carbonara as a measuring stick for any quality Italian restaurant, Patrizi's hits the high mark, especially when the additions include a coddled egg, bacon, or a baseball-sized meatball. However, the red sauce on Patrizi’s thick, toothy pasta is nothing to scoff at, either: It’s stewed with onions, garlic, garden herbs, pork trimmings, and cheese rinds for an oh-so-comforting classic sauce.

Jackie Klusmeyer

L'Oca d'Oro

Mueller

Executive chef Fiore Tedesco (formerly of Franklin BBQ, La Condesa, and Bufalina) and the culinary team of L’Oca d’Oro (Italian for “golden goose”) have been consistently creating contemporary Italian dishes since the place opened in 2016. Everything on the menu shines, thanks to the house-made pasta, fresh-baked breads, wood-grilled meats, and seasonal ingredients, with current lick-the-bowl standouts including the risotto verde (creamy risotto flavored with cheese, pepper, prosciutto cotto, and crispy broccoli) and the rigatoni alla Norcina (house pork sausage, taleggio cream, dried chile). Try L’Oca D’Oro’s brunch: the Bloody Bartolo (a Bloody Mary made with tequila and fermented chile) alone is worth the trip.

Courtesy of Paul Bardagjy

Enoteca Vespaio and Vespaio Ristorante

South Congress

Dinner spot Vespaio opened in 1998, back before South Congress was a busy tourist attraction, with the more casual Enoteca Vespaio next door opening in 2005 to satisfy the demand for its Italian fare to be served all day. You can’t go wrong with prosciutto pizza from Enoteca, or the melanzana & zucchini -- crispy eggplant, zucchini, arrabbiata sauce, and fresh mozzarella served with spaghetti with garlic olive oil. Don’t forget to grab some house-made pastries for the ride home, either.

Reale's Pizza & Cafe

Anderson Mill

Reale's has been serving up hearty, New York-style Italian in Anderson Mill since the early '90s. The vibe of the family-friendly restaurant is a far cry from the Instagrammable eateries downtown, but what it lacks in trendiness, it completely makes up for with simple, honest, and delicious food: red-sauce favorites include the baked ziti, manicotti, and the pizza (any pizza). Oh, and be sure and load up on the breadsticks, which are worth a trip up North on their own.

Cannone Cucina Italiana

Cannone Cucina Italiana

Barton Springs

Located at the Picnic at Barton Springs food truck park, Cannone Cucina Italiana is helmed by chef/owner and native Italian Salvatore Cannone. The truck is recognized as an absolute gem for anyone who's had the chance to try the fresh pasta; regulars absolutely rave about the fluffy gnocchi, flavorful ravioli, rich bolognese sauce, zesty red sauce and pesto, pasta carbonara... we could go on and on. Do yourself a solid and head there, ASAP.

Olive & June

Olive & June

Rosedale

Stylish digs, fantastic cocktails and wine selection, and beautifully plated fare that leans bright and light over mom-and-pop heavy -- these are just a few of Olive & June’s highlights. Part of Parkside Projects (the group behind Parkside, The Backspace, and Bullfight), Olive & June feels like a special occasion restaurant, whether you choose to dine in the intimate dining room or under the 200-year old oak tree strung with lights. Start with the farm egg (polenta, foraged mushrooms), move onto the zingy spaghetti alla foriana (shrimp, cashew, preserved lemon, basil) and finish with the 44 Farms New York strip (spring vegetable, parsnip puree, charred leek).

Up Next
Food & Drink

The Best Tex-Mex Restaurants in Austin

Published On 05/04/2018
David Saracino/Thrillist
Sponsored

The $25-and-Under Golden State Gift Guide

Published On 11/26/2018
Mattie's | Nick Simonite
Food & Drink

Austin's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
T here were plenty of restaurant openings in Austin this year, but the best ones all had a few things in common: comforting, un-gimmicky foods, served in chic surroundings, by (unsurprisingly) the top culinary talent in the city. They may not be the places with 4-dollar-sign price points, or the ones with two-hour weekend waits, but each of the restaurants below quickly earned top spots on Austin’s “You’ve gotta eat here” board. Whether you start with pimento and peacocks on the patio of a historic Victorian home, or by submitting your naughtiest behavior into a confessional box after an order of fries and soft serve, you’ll enjoy eating your way through Austin’s best new restaurants of 2017.
Thomas Allison / Thrillist

Bonhomie

Burnet Avenue

Casual-yet-refined French/American diner with classic cocktails
Chosen as one of Thrillist's Prime 13 best new restaurants of 2017, this French bistro/American diner mashup features the tinge of Asian flavors you’d expect from chef Philip Speer, former director of culinary operations at Uchi. Don’t expect to find any pretension here -- Bonhomie is approachable, casual, comforting, and yes, affordable! The double-meat burger is oozing with Dijonnaise and cheese, the pommes rosti are crispy potato birds’ nests with toppings like roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach (our favorite), and the croque monsieur and French onion soup are so over-the-top-rich that you practically have to share them. There are no literally no wrong choices, except not dining here -- or drinking here, thanks to the full bar and fantastic cocktail list.

Robert Lerma

Holy Roller

Downtown

Comfort food, cocktails, and kitsch from pastry chef Callie Speer
Callie Speer, former pastry chef of Swift’s Attic and Geraldine’s, opened punk rock diner Holy Roller as a labor of love, alongside an all-star team of women including beverage director Jen Keyser. The menu is full of comfort food, and each Texas classic is stamped with Callie Speer’s signature whimsy, like the addictive Trash Fries (gravy, sunny-side egg, sour cream, corn, lime, and cotija cheese) and the migas kolache (stuffed with queso, crispy potatoes, and jalapeño). Better still, Holy Roller caters to Austin’s brunch-obsessed masses by serving it all day on Sundays, including the Sunday School menu of pastries and tasty cocktails based off the Seven Deadly Sins. Drop a confession note in the box by the bathroom, and it might just get chosen as inspiration for Holy Roller’s next special cocktail.

Kemuri Tatsu-ya

East Austin

Mash-up of a Texas smokehouse and a Japanese gastropub
Describing Kemuri Tatsu-ya to the uninitiated gets convoluted: a Japanese izakaya in a former Eastside BBQ joint, with Texas influences and a killer Japanese whisky selection? Sure. The menu starts with bites like the uber-popular, Gouda-and-brisket-stuffed Hot Pocketz, and ends with ramen served with a thick dipping broth and fiery jalapeños, but not without a few twists and turns along the way. The “odd bits” menu offers tiny dishes of the (very) funky squid marinated in its own guts, as well as sweet and sour marinated jellyfish, while the yakitori offerings range from familiar chicken meatballs to challenging chicken hearts. And don’t even get us started on the cocktail program; arguably one of the best in Austin, the menu features fun, shareable portions served in kitschy vessels (like the Matcha Pain Killer, served in a cat-shaped cup). Think of Kemuri Tatsu-ya as a choose-your-own-adventure dining experience; stay in your comfort zone or get weird, it’s all up to you. Whatever you do, though, order a crisp Orion lager: it gives your go-to light beer a run for its money.

Nicolai McCrary

Soursop

South Congress

Pan-Asian fusion served on the patio of a craft brewery
Soursop, the pan-Asian trailer serving bar food on the patio of St. Elmo Brewing Co. is a standout in the neighborhood, the food truck landscape, and Austin in general for a few reasons: inventive flavor profiles, the fact that St. Elmo’s beers magically pair with everything on the menu, and the culinary team’s (possibly tongue-in-cheek?) shrine to Guy Fieri. Menu offerings occasionally change, but our favorites don’t appear to be going anywhere -- namely the Water-Burger (a refreshing burger made with ground chuck and brisket, caramelized onion ranch, lettuce, marinated cucumber, garlic pepper, and toasted rice powder), and the huge, sticky sambal wings (jumbo whole wings, Thai chili, palm sugar, fish sauce, coconut vinegar, peanut, mint).

Charles Reagan

Native Hostel

East Austin

Upscale hostel and bar serving modern diner classics
Hip digs and a kitchen with generous hours add up to Austin’s newest hotspot for sleeping, eating, drinking, and checking out live music and DJs. The kitchen has everything an Austin guest (or resident) could want, comforting diner food, brunch and lots of vegetarian options. With picks like the fried chicken sandwich (pickle brined chicken, dill pickles, pickled peppers, mayo) and the meatless chilaquiles (veggie chorizo, corn tortilla chips, pickled peppers, tomato, avocado, queso and sunny-side-up egg), this is the sort of food that late dinners and (ahem, challenging) breakfasts require. Pro tip: Native serves brunch until 3pm on weekends.

El Chipirón

South Lamar

Spanish tapas and cocktails found on first floor of residential building
A new kid on the block, El Chipirón earns its stripes with Spanish tapas and pintxos in a modern Euro setting alongside a lovely cocktail menu with an emphasis on gin and tonics (like The Tejano, which involves lots of smoke and herbs). The menu is decked out with meat and cheese boards, small plates, and a couple of large options like the juicy lomo de vaca (44 Farms strip steak, Padrón pepper, LaFou demi-glace, tomato, potato); standouts include the squid ink (colored and flavored) black rice with squid, mussels and scallops and tabla de ibéricos loaded with Spanish chorizo, Iberian ham, salchichón, and accoutrements.

Laura Hajar

Pitchfork Pretty

East Cesar Chavez

Stylish eatery taking a chef-forward approach to modern Southern fare
Helmed by executive chef Max Snyder, Pitchfork Pretty appeared seemingly out of nowhere -- before anyone realized what happened, East Cesar Chavez was home to a design-forward, A-frame building with a mix of chef-y small plates and hearty fried chicken, and cocktails that satisfy both the cucumber margarita and whiskey crowds. The concept is hard to pin down but easy to fall in love with. Critics are rightly swooning over the pickled quail egg on crispy leeks -- a perfect bite consumed like you would an oyster -- and the gluten-free, chickpea flour-breaded fried chicken brined in a habanero vinegar.

bao'd up

Bao'd Up

Mueller

Fast casual joint for steamed buns and bubble tea
Bao’d Up, Mueller’s new steamed-bun-dedicated restaurant from chef Ting Li, is making waves with its bite-size offerings made with the sticky, steamed bread in multiple forms: baozi, mantou, gua bao, and bao fries. We like the simple BBQ pork bao and Szechuan fries topped with spicy mayo, sesame, and green onion, and no trip to Bao’d Up is complete without a build-your-own bubble drink; the matcha and taro are favorites.

Nick Simonite

Mattie's

Bouldin Creek

Elevated Southern cuisine served among live oaks and peacocks
The former Green Pastures (which now refers solely to the event space), Mattie’s is the revamped new concept from Austin developer Greg Porter and La Corsha Hospitality -- which operates Second Bar + Kitchen and Boiler Nine. With its marble countertops, exquisite light fixtures, copper hardware, and textured wallpaper that begs to be touched, the new skin applied to the home’s old bones is incredibly gorgeous to behold. The menu is also just as impressive, whether you’re having dinner in one of the many dining rooms or on the lawn alongside the resident peacocks. Southern dishes sprinkled with French and Asian influence as well as untouched classics like pimento cheese and fried chicken eggs Benedict sparkle at Mattie’s... just as much as the dreamy surroundings.