It's the rare teen star that doesn't burn out, fade away, or linger around irrelevantly for decades benefiting no one but their plastic surgeon and VH1. Blazing into culinary maturity, the former prodigy running Newk's Express Cafe
Brought to Austin by an ATX-born chef who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at 17 then spent 10 years manning restos in NY and MS, Newk's is a Mississippi-based deli chain serving pizzas, sandwiches, and gigantic salads; the red-walled, open-kitchen Austin location maintains a casual, almost IKEA vibe, though the free meatball is you.
Crispy 10" thin-crusts range from the traditional (margherita, five-cheese, pepperoni) to topping-heavy combos like the Spicy Shrimp (roasted red and yellow bell peppers, roma tomatoes, chili oil, red chilis), the Mediterranean (grilled chicken breast, kalamatas, artichoke, red onion, pepperoncini, feta) and the Deluxe, with ham, mortadella, pepperoni, and so many vegetables...you'll wish there were fewer vegetables.
Hot, fresh-baked sandwiches include chicken salad with pecans, grapes, and provolone, grilled steak layered with caramelized onions, prov, and horseradish spread, and the Newk's Q, with grilled chicken breast, Applewood smoked bacon, Swiss, and homemade Alabama-style "White BBQ Sauce", a mayo-based concoction that suggests white supremacy can be tangy.
For salad-tossers with hearty appetites, Newk's 10 options run from Shrimp Remoulade (a dozen broiled shrimp, hard boiled egg, grape tomatoes, remoulade) to the mixed greens/grilled steak/gorg Black and Bleu -- or what Danny Bonaduce's face looked like after he attempted a headlong rush out of irrelevance, straight into Jose Canseco's fist.