Tony's Vineyard

My first introduction to Tony's Vineyard was during one of their recentMurder Mystery Musical Nights

Tony's Vineyard

2828 Rio Grande, 476-5600

Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm

Dinner: Monday-Saturday, 5-10pm

My first introduction to Tony's Italian Vineyard was during one of their recentÊMurder Mystery Musical Nights. On the first Sunday of every month, the restaurant hosts dinner theatre. For $39.99, the bill of fare includes a four-course dinner and a campy whodunnit musical, both dripping with drama and cheese. As the players strolled among the tables belting out torch tunes and spinning a web of theatrical intrigue, my husband and I gobbled bruschetta, fettuccine Alfredo, eggplant parmesan, and cheesecake. And while neither the cuisine nor the performance was legendary, I enjoyed myself amid the earnest attempt to revive a once beloved and now almost defunct art form.

Tony's Italian Vineyard is the latest embodiment of the little Italian joint that used to be just off the drag. Last year, Tony Allevato bought the space once occupied by Piccolo on Rio Grande and set up shop there as Tony's Italian Vineyard. After eight months, both the sign and menu are finally ready to reflect the new ownership this weekend.

Tony describes his food as "Italian cooking in the southern style," which means plenty of garlic, tomato, and cream, though in this case, not always in the appropriate place. At Tony's, even the Penne all'Arabiatta ($10.95) swims in cream, not to mention the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara ($10.25), and the Tortellini con Prosciutto ($11.95). This is not necessarily a bad thing, it's just important to realize that the very classic-sounding dishes on the restaurant's menu are not necessarily made the classic way. We sampled cheese ravioli bathed in cream and topped with a pile of prosciutto that was tasty, but that bludgeoned the palate with lactic bravado.

The same boldness applies to Tony's tomato sauce, though with better results. Just about anything smothered in marinara sauce at Tony's is good. Made with 12 different herbs and spices, spiked with garlic, and enriched with olive oil, the sauce is as toothsome over plain linguine as it is smothering fish or eggplant parmesan. Veal dishes are also successful. Our Veal Picatta ($14.75) was tender and lemony, lightly bejeweled by capers and artichokes.

Less appealing was a Mixed Greens and Seared Tuna appetizer ($10.50). Though the portion was large enough for a main course, the rare fresh tuna I ordered came to the table looking more like something out of a can. Not only overcooked, but also overpeppered, I suspect it may actually have been a tactical maneuver by the kitchen, since the fish was also a just a shade on the downside of fresh.

Look for new dishes such as a Gorgonzola rib eye, calzones, and Stromboli to appear on the new menu later this month. And do make a reservation for one of the restaurant's entertaining dinner theatre productions. You won't regret it.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Food Reviews
Himalaya Kosheli and Fat Dragon Spice Up Spicewood Springs
Himalaya Kosheli and Fat Dragon Spice Up Spicewood Springs
Nepalese fare and Asian fusion revitalize North Austin shopping center

Jessi Cape, Feb. 15, 2019

Otherside Deli Offers Out-of-This-World Pastrami and Corned Beef Sandwiches
Otherside Deli Offers Out-of-This-World Pastrami and Corned Beef Sandwiches
Former food truck touches down on West 34th Street

Jessi Cape, Jan. 25, 2019

More by Rachel Feit
Kitchen Ghosts
Kitchen Ghosts
Unearthing Austin's culinary history: Schneider Beer Vaults

May 20, 2016

Walking the Fine-Dining Line
Walking the Fine-Dining Line
How much is too much for Austin diners?

May 6, 2016


Tony's Vineyard, Tony Allevato

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle