Second Helpings

A Little Italy, Part Two

"Second Helpings" offers tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled from new and previous reviews, guides, and poll results. This week's entries were updated by Erin Mosow. For quick, reliable info about Austin eateries, check here.

Treehouse Italian Grill

2201 College, 443-4200

Monday-Thursday 11am-2pm, 5-10pm;

Friday 11am-2pm, 5-11pm;

Saturday 5-11pm; Sunday 5-11pm

The menu at this South Austin establishment tends to run the gamut, mixing Norwegian salmon and steaks with chicken Piccata, pasta with scampi, and lasagna in their midrange Italian menu. Four lunch specials -- including a sandwich option -- are available. A reasonably priced wine list and enhanced patio with fresh flowers make this a good choice for casual deckside dining when the weather is not particularly punishing.

Vinny's Italian Cafe

1003 Barton Springs Rd., 482-8484

Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm; Friday 11am-11pm, Saturday 11am-11pm

Longtime residents will remember this Barton Springs neighborhood joint as the former Holiday House location. The menu features all the pasta dishes you'd expect from a guy named Vinny, as well as a number of recently added specialty pizzas. They also now offer lunch on Saturdays, a choice of wine dinners, and an updated wine list. The happy-hour bellinis are rumored to be a notable bargain.

Brick Oven
Brick Oven (Photo By John Anderson)

Brick Oven

1608 W. 35th, 453-4330

Monday-Friday 11am-2pm, 5-10pm; Saturday 5-10pm; Sunday 5-9pm

Like a neighborhood-style pizzeria, the Brick Oven on 35th Street serves home-style, 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, with creations like the roasted red bell pepper pesto sauce. Fresh baked bread and cool salads with every meal add inches at the waistline but make for a terrific pocketbook regime. The Brick Oven still serves some of the best pizza in town. In a month they'll be putting up a Web site at www.brickovenat35th.com.

Brick Oven

1209 Red River, 477-7006

Monday-Thursday 11am-9:30pm; Friday 11am-10pm; Saturday 11:30am-10pm; Sunday 5-9:30pm

10710 Research Blvd., 345-6181

Sunday-Thursday 11am-9:30pm;

Friday-Saturday 11am-10pm

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., 335-5445

Monday-Thursday 11am-9:30pm; Friday-Saturday 11am-10pm; Sunday 11:30am-8pm

Not to be confused with the Brick Oven at 35th Street, these three restaurants all put out reasonably priced, competently prepared pizzas, strombolis, and calzones from a wood-fired oven. Traditional toppings still preside, but the Oven does offer such specialty pizzas as spinach and artichoke, portobello and prosciutto, or sun-dried Mediterranean. All three convenient locations offer a full selection of familiar pasta dishes including lasagna, chicken formaggi, and ravioli.

Gino's Italian Grill

730 W. Stassney, 326-4466

Monday-Saturday 3pm-midnight;

Sunday 6pm-midnight

Cozy, traditional-style Italian food is offered at this South Austin neighborhood restaurant. Homemade bread, eggplant and chicken parmigiana, ravioli, and manicotti feature prominently among chef/owner Greg Lawson's family recipes. Gino's has live music starting at 9pm and, if the party's still going, occasionally stays open past midnight. Call Gino's or check the music listings for details about acts.

Italian Gardens Hill Country

14611 FM 1325, 388-1062

Tuesday-Friday 11am-2pm;

Tuesday-Thursday 5:15-9pm;

Friday-Saturday 5:15-10pm;

closed Sundays and Mondays

Since 1966, the quirky Italian Gardens has been pleasing neighborhood folks with their consistent cuisine and reasonably priced food. Chronicle critics voted it best Brooklyn-style Italian in 1996. Chicken cacciatora, eggplant parmigiana, lasagnas, and other pastas are among the dishes the kitchen prepares fresh every day. The menu offers a new shrimp fettuccini as well as a garlic butter caper sauce served over spaghetti. All dinners come with homemade minestrone, salad, a baby pizza, and bread. The restaurant can also cater to planned events with its private dining room for up to 40 guests.

Spaghetti Warehouse

117 W. Fourth, 476-4059

Sunday-Thursday 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday 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, fettuccine Alfredo, cannelloni Florentine, or grilled steak, they have it all at this popular downtown family-style restaurant.

Rigatoni's

1201 E. Sixth, 457-1551

Monday-Friday 11am-10pm;

Saturday noon-10pm

Located a couple of blocks east of I-35 in the former home of the Hernandez Cafe, Rigatoni's is a traditional Italian-American restaurant run by a Hispanic family. The prices are affordable, the service is friendly, and, according to some of our readers, the homemade pizzas are the way to go here.

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