Intero Chefs Up a Bonding Experience
The Eastside Italian eatery allows much time to dine
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
10:45AM, Fri. Oct. 8, 2021
It’s a good thing Intero’s pizza program – Pizza a Parte, a continuing extension of their savvy to-go pandemic pivot – it’s a good thing that isn’t the restaurant’s sole focus. It’s a good thing for other pizza makers in town, anyway – because Intero’s pizzas are, you know, *chef’s kiss* … and nobody needs competition that fierce.
The Beef Confit pizza, with its braised greens, onion agrodolce, and gorgonzola. The Vegetarian Corn Cacio. The Kennebec Potato pizza. The –
But, no, although you can order those pizzas for your sit-down meal – note the photo evidence above – the Italian restaurant on East Cesar Chavez that’s helmed by executive chef Ian Thurwachter and pastry chef Krystal Kraig is about fine dining in general. We mean really fine dining in general, from the moment you walk in off the street and enter the elegantly appointed venue, from when you first notice the ornate chocolate truffles in the host station’s display windows, and –
Oh, yes: Those truffles. Good lord, those truffles. That’s because chef Kraig is a dedicated chocolatier, see, and when she’s not preparing the other marvels of confection that complete a meal at Intero, she’s doing things with cacao beans that people queue up for in advance. And –
Where were we? Ah, right: Sitting in the comfortable seats of Intero’s spacious yet somehow intimate interior, looking at the tasteful art on the walls, sipping a glass of sparkling water, anticipating the appetizers of the night’s gastronomic journey. Being waited on by people who not only know what they’re doing but, you’d swear, care about how well they’re doing it: Making sure your dining experience is as enjoyable as they can help it be.
That’s the thing, though: Waitstaff, no matter how skilled, can only ever help a dining experience be a good one. The heavier lifting’s done by the chef and crew in the kitchen. Because the proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Or, as with Intero, in the freshly housemade pasta, the luxurious sauces, the perfectly cooked cuts of locally sourced meat, the vegetables recently harvested from some nearby garden, and –
Ian Thurwachter. Krystal Kraig. Those names, right? And they’re married, too, these chefs. Like a couple out of Ian Fleming, though both of them are native Austinites. Like a couple out of some James Bond movie that happens to be filming in a terrific Italian restaurant on Austin’s Eastside.
Tell you what: If that high-living 007 spy ever had a plate of Thurwachter’s smoked lamb sirloin on risotto with pickled corn, green chiles, and roasted garlic, he’d happily trade his license to do anything, just to have another plate of that meal again in his lifetime. If Miss Moneypenny took more than two bites of the braised wagyu culotella with ricotta dumplings and pumpkin-with-brown-butter, she’d likely rat out her longtime espionage crush to SPECTRE if they promised her a few more bites of it.
And what does Ernst Stavro Blofeld eat that lets you know he’s both brilliant and not entirely evil? Reckon he eats Kraig’s peanut-butter-and-honey chocolate truffles, is what he eats, and his eyes roll back in gustatory pleasure.
But now, here, at this point of the article, your reporter’s wife insists that he mention the bread. Like, never mind the entrees, here’s the bread course, WTF? That's because she – Katherine – had some of Intero’s bread with their housemade ricotta cheese, as an appetizer. And Katherine loves cheese, and the ricotta was superb, but she hardly noticed the stuff: The bread was commanding much more attention. It was perfectly crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside and the flavor was blowing her palate’s mind. She couldn’t – still can’t – stop talking about that bread.
“Yes, we make the bread in-house every day,” the affable waiter informed us as he set down a bowl of oven-roasted sweet peppers that, after a single mouthful, proceeded to blow my own palate’s mind.
It’s almost ridiculous, isn’t it, the amount of deliciousness that a skilled kitchen can coax from nature’s cultivated bounty?
So, citizen. Have you always wanted to eat at a place that your body’s food-related pleasure centers would welcome as a great, good friend? Do you mind – or do you prefer? – that it’s among so many other worthwhile options in the culinary destination of East Cesar Chavez?
Well, then. Allow me to make this … Intero-duction.