The Austin Chronicle


Italian, Too

August 6, 1999, Food

5416 Parkcrest, 459-9960
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm

Fun, festive, Italian food with a Southwestern flair. Cafe Spiazzo serves eclectic pastas such as Black Pepper Linguine with Clam Sauce, or Seafood with Ancho-Honey-Lime-Marsala Sauce over JalapeƱo Fettucine. The restaurant also features an assortment of pizzas and nightly specials. An expansive wine list will suit many tastes.

Brick Oven

1608 W. 35th, 453-4330
Mon-Thu, 11am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm

Like a neighborhood-style pizzeria, the Brick Oven on 35th Street serves homestyle, thin-crust pizzas and pastas with a personal touch. Red sauces dominate the pastas, while most pizzas also tend toward the traditional, with the notable exception of Chipotle Pesto Chicken Pizza. Unlike a neighborhood pizzeria, the Brick Oven gives equal time to pasta and pizza. Fresh baked bread and cool salads with every meal add inches at the waistline but make for a terrific pocketbook regimen.

Brick Oven

1209 Red River, 477-7006
Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 5-10pm

10710 Research, 345-6181
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-11pm

11200 Lakeline Mall Blvd., 335-5445
Mon-Thu, 11am-9:30pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-10pm; Sun, 11:30am-8pm

Not to be confused with the Brick Oven at 35th Street, these three restaurants are under different management but maintain similar menus. These Brick Ovens also put out reasonably priced, competently prepared pizzas, strombolis, and calzones from a wood-fired oven. Traditional toppings still preside, but the Oven does offer specialty pizzas such as spinach and artichoke, or portobello and prosciutto. All three convenient locations offer a full selection of familiar pasta dishes, including lasagne, chicken formaggi, and ravioli.


900 W. 10th, 477-5576
Sun-Thu, 6-10pm; Fri-Sat, 6-10:30pm

Essential Italian food without compromise to fusion-fashion, Basil's does it the old-country way. This upscale restaurant offers well-prepared traditional dishes such as chicken saltimbocca, veal marsala, and beef tenderloin with port and gorgonzola. Their wine list is extensive, offering an impressive selection of Italian wines. Homemade pastas and rich, creamy desserts also feature. With its quality service and intimate setting, Basil's offers the next best thing to a vacation in Tuscany.

Pavarotti's Italian Grill & Seafood Restaurant

3300 Anderson, #303, 420-0070
Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm, 4:30-10pm; Sat, 4:30-10pm

An extensive menu offers old favorites such as eggplant parmigiana, cannelloni, and fettucine alfredo. But Pavarotti's also serves a wide range of meat and seafood dishes made with carefully prepared sauces. Veal and seafood figure prominently on a specials menu that changes weekly.

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant

8833 Burnet, 459-0701
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm

3940 S. Lamar, 440-0301
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm

One word sums it all up: hospitaliano. For those who still haven't seen the commercials or personally experienced the Olive Garden adventure, this chain eatery serves reliable, generic Italian food at reasonable prices. A popular family place, as well as a safe choice for those who fear Food-unknown.

Mama Mia's

8015 Shoal Creek Blvd., 451-0177
Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri, 11am-11pm; Sat, 4-11pm

Woo your date at this romantic Southern Italian-style trattoria where candlelit tables make the atmosphere feel sophisticated yet homey. Hearty dishes with rich sauces tend to dominate the menu at this upscale Italian restaurant. Daily specials such as Grilled Tuna with Spicy Marinara Sauce, Yellow Bell Peppers, and Black Olives offer a pleasant diversion from the everyday menu. This restaurant is a popular Valentine's Day date destination, but call ahead for reservations because they fill up months in advance.

Gino's Italian Grill

730 W. Stassney, 326-4466

Cozy, traditional-style Italian food is offered at this South Austin neighborhood restaurant. Homemade bread, eggplant parmigiana, ravioli, and manicotti feature prominently among chef-owner Greg Lawson's family recipes. Chronicle readers picked Gino's in 1994 for the best Philly Cheesesteak. Gino's now has live music starting at 9pm. Call Gino's or check the music listings for details about acts.

Italian Gardens Hill Country

14611 FM 1325, 388-1062
Tue-Fri, 11am-2pm, 5-10pm; Sat, 5-10pm

Since 1966, the quirky Italian Gardens has been pleasing neighborhood folks with its consistent cuisine and reasonably priced food. Chronicle critics voted it best Brooklyn-style Italian in 1996. Chicken cacciatore, eggplant parmigiana, lasagnas, and other pastas are among the dishes the kitchen prepares fresh every day. All dinners come with homemade minestrone, salad, a baby pizza, and bread.

Spaghetti Warehouse

117 W. Fourth, 476-4059
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm

Don't feel like cooking? Well, pack the kids in the minivan and head over to Spaghetti Warehouse. Guaranteed to please the little people with plenty of the kitsch they like to look at and plenty of food they like to eat. Entertain them while they sit down to a meal in one of the Warehouse's old trolley cars. Whether it's spaghetti with meatballs, fettucine alfredo, canneloni Florentine, or grilled steak, there's something for everyone at this popular downtown family-style restaurant.

Macaroni Grill

9828 Great Hills Trail, 795-0460
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm

701 Capital of Texas Hwy, 329-0000
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm

Always consistent and usually crowded, this eclectic Italian restaurant chain from San Antonio has been popular in Austin since it opened eight years ago, winning spots among the runners-up and honorable mentions in the Chronicle Readers polls. Grilled Salmon with Spinach Orzo Pasta, and Grilled Chicken with Mushrooms and Smoked Mozzarella feature among the more popular items. Plenty of pastas and a lively atmosphere also make this restaurant particularly kid-friendly.

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