The Austin Chronicle


By Virginia B. Wood, March 2, 2007, Food

I don't know when I've had as much fun working on a story as I did on our recent feature tracing the history of the Clarksville dining scene. It obviously sparked lots of memories among our readers, and it was great to get calls and e-mails from so many people. Local bass man Pat Whitefield called to share his warm memories of many meals at Casiraghi's. Former Chronicle contributor Rachel Feit wrote in to say she had just completed an archaeological study on a similar African-American neighborhood in Houston where Italian immigrant families had opened grocery stores, restaurants, and meat markets beginning at the turn of the 20th century. And I would like to assure Kathryn Marie Sanders (Wilson Henley) that everyone I interviewed spoke of her grandmother Josephine Viscardi in the most glowing and respectful terms, referring to her as an astute businesswoman and doting grandmother…

Our Claudia Alarcón was visiting with Sam's BBQ (2000 E. 12th, 478-0378) proprietor Wanda Mays last week and discovered they have plans in the works to remodel and upgrade the legendary East Austin barbecue haven in part so that they may offer regular live blues. The Mays family would like to apply for some of the city money allocated to business revitalization in the area, but in order to do so, they need bids from three building contractors to submit with their proposal. Surely, there are some barbecue-loving building contractors out there who could put in a bid on the project; contact Wanda at the restaurant if you can help… So many cool things have happened in the SoCo neighborhood in the four years since I moved east, not the least of which is the opening this weekend of the new Cissi's Market (1400-A Congress, 225-0521). Victoria Leyden has created this chic new spot, naming it in the honor of her beloved mother. The opening this weekend is the talk of my old 'hood. General manager Craig Thibodeau and Executive Chef Michael Pearce have assisted Leyden in making her dream a reality. The new shop offers an eclectic mix of gourmet food products, fine prepared foods, and an array of other inviting options. Catering is available. Wow. When I lived on Eva Street, all that came out of that building all day were announcements on the auto dealership's obnoxious intercom system. I'm so jealous!

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