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Food-O-File

National and local talent converge at the Austin Food & Wine Festival

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., April 25, 2014

Food-O-File
Photo by John Anderson

The third annual Austin Food & Wine Festival comes to town this weekend, showcasing national culinary celebrities alongside the best and brightest homegrown talent Austin and other Texas cities have to offer. Festival events will take place at Republic Square and Butler parks with à la carte events and afterparties at Central Market, Mellow Johnny's, and Trace at the W. Tickets are still available. Read more about what's in store at the AF&WF.

Now that Austin Community College is busy developing the Highland Mall property, a California real estate developer has purchased the long- languishing Lincoln Village shopping center between the old mall and I-35. Misuma Holdings has re-christened the center the Linc and is seeking Austin-centric businesses to fill the spaces. One restaurant headed there is VIVO, under new ownership, with new decor and an expanded menu.

The Capital Grille (117 W. Fourth) opens Friday, April 25 in the historic building that was formerly home to the Spaghetti Warehouse. The first local outpost of the national chain of upscale steakhouses, known for exemplary service and an extensive wine list, will offer a large public dining area and three private dining rooms, a lounge with live music Wednesday through Saturday, and a covered patio. They'll be open for lunch weekdays and dinner nightly.

The air over South Austin should be redolent of marinara, what with the new Italian eateries opening up south of the river this spring. Malavita Barese has opened Mama Mal's Italian Cuisine (603 W. Live Oak) in the South First Food Court and is offering pastas, subs, salads, and cannoli, often with sides of live local music. Over on South Lamar, look for longtime local hospitality pro Dave Whitney and former San Antonio chef Jason Garcia to open Aroma Italian Kitchen & Bar (3403 S. Lamar) in the new mixed-use development next to the Broken Spoke. Whitney reports they're still in the hiring process and waiting on some of their interior furnishings, all of which have been locally sourced and created by Austin artisans represented by his sister's custom furniture company, Mockingbird Domestics (2151 S. Lamar). The Aroma menu will feature wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas, antipasti, pasta, salads, entrées, desserts, and a full bar. Whitney says the target opening date is May 7.

I recently chatted with Louis "Cuatro" Kowalski about the revamp of his sports bar in the West Campus area. Look for Tap 24 (1001 W. 24th) to open late May or early June with an affordable bar food menu, plenty of big-screen TVs tuned to sports, and 24 beer taps, about half of them devoted to local craft beers.

Two Central Texas olive oil companies brought home gold medals from the recent New York International Olive Oil competition. Congratulations to First Texas Olive Oil Company at Bella Vista Ranch near Wimberley for the gold garnered by their Estate Coratina extra virgin olive oil that is grown, pressed, and bottled in Texas. Also, a shout-out to Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company near Dripping Springs for the gold given to their Sola Stella olive oil. Great news for the Texas olive oil industry all around!

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