The Austin Chronicle

Free Cheese from Antonelli’s; Pasta Paisanos Power Up; Aiello’s Red Sauce Redux; BBQ Ramen Tatsu-ya Gets Swole; Bearded Baking Boosts Bastrop Brunching; and More

By Wayne Alan Brenner, February 1, 2023, 4:00pm, On the Range

Here’s some of what's happening in Austin's culinary scene – as wrangled from numerous PR releases, words on the digital street, and even the occasional (verified) IRL eavesdroppings.


Here, in fact, is your “Food News Buffet” for the first week of February, as all the tree-draping icicles begin to think about starting to melt.

Why, yes, we do have a heaping helping of Valentine’s Day dining recos wrangled for you, so – bon appétit, lovers!

We could all use some comfort after this recent ice storm, and eating good cheese is one of this world’s surest comforts, and look: Antonelli’s annual Free Cheese Week is running Feb. 6-10 – which means that the first 50 customers each day to visit the Hyde Park shop (4220 Duval) will receive a free wedge of cheese. (Note: Antonelli’s is open daily, 11am-7pm.) Plus, their usual schedule of tasting-and-pairing classes? Is being supercharged with a few unique offerings next week, so give ’em a look-see right here

We keep reminding you about those monthly Pasta Pasianos dinners with Fiore Tedesco and guest chefs at L’Oca d’Oro (1900 Simond), right? Here’s a happy follow-up to the most recent one: January’s dinner featuring Aaron & Stacy Franklin raised $6,200, bringing the total Pasta Paisanos support of the Lilith Fund to $23,000. And now here comes the February dinner, on Tue., Feb. 7, with the excellent Kim Alter (chef/owner of San Francisco’s Nightbird) as the culinary collaborator …

Speaking of Italian things … Aiello’s, the Italian-American pop-up concept at Birdie’s (2944 E. 12th), will be returning Feb. 7-11 and Feb.14-18. The classic red sauce joint is an homage to chef Tracy Malachek-Ezekiel’s grandfather, a tribute to the many contributions that immigrants have made to food in America, and a taste of the old country as only the team at Birdie’s can bring it. Just in time, we happily note, for Valentine’s Day …


BBQ Ramen Tatsu-ya (2027 Anchor), the most recent nomtastic noodle dream made reality by acclaimed chef Tatsu Aikawa, is now 1) offering table service, 2) accepting takeout orders in-person and online, and 3) have extended their business hours to include weekend lunches. Plus, there area few new menu items – including the latest iteration of chef Aikawa’s beloved Tsukemen. And, what, you’re looking for some live music, too? They’ve got it, on Saturdays, 2-5pm. [Note: You’d think that chef Tatsu would maybe take a break after so recently rocking this town – and tbh the whole Islander-vibe world – with his Tiki Tatsu-ya on South Lamar, right? But you’d be wrong.]

February is Black History Month, and you know Central Market is proud to amplify the voices of Black-owned companies throughout their stores, showcasing new and existing products from cooks, creators, winemakers, and more – as well as offering an array of cooking classes from renowned Black chefs (we’re especially excited about the Creole-focused “Tribute to Chef Leah Chase” on Wed., Feb. 8. Check out the details right here – or, yeah, get yourself to the nearest store (there’s always something you want at Central Market).


Longtime readers know that our taste buds were madly in love with chef Wes Dills’ biscuits-and-gravy when he was running his Bearded Baking Company in the Still Austin courtyard. And then, sigh, he moved elsewhere to focus more cookiewise & confectionary for a while (with Huckleberry taking over that Still Austin spot in the Yard at St. Elmo). Well. Praise the lard (or the plant-based cooking oil), because, hallelujah, the full Bearded Baking Company experience – with, yes, those biscuits as part of brunch service – is returning in February! Mind you, chef Dills’ new joint is out there in Bastrop (1006 Main) … but even your current reporter and his travel-averse spouse will be making the drive ASAP. Because maximum yum, people, omg.

Let’s see – what else, what else? Our roving correspondent A. Richmond reports on Austin’s newest James Beard Award nominees … this Sunday has a one-two punch of culinary paradise, with Jo’s Chili Cookoff rocking from noon-3pm and Texas Saké Co’s sushi-powered tasting-and-pairing class going 5-7pm … Austin’s Museum of Ice Cream is teaming with the Luv Fats crew for special treats throughout February’s Black History celebration … we’ve raised a highly impressed and joyous alarm about the second Field Guide Festival coming up in April … and, oh, did Chronicle Food editor Melanie Haupt have anything good to say about that new plant-based Japanese restaurant, Nori, on the Drag?

WUXTRY! When it’s no longer too icy to drive but still pretty cold, take a gander at the menus of Opal Divine’s Austin Grill (2200 S. I-35) and consider steering your best wheels there. Michael Parker’s bright bastion of downhome culinary style will warm you up when you’re shivering, cool you down when it’s sweltering, and boy howdy do they have a plethora of fine whiskies to choose from, too …

Now eat as well as you can, tip like it’s going out of style, and don’t forget what you went into the other room to look for.

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