A look at this week's food news
After 40 years in the UT campus area, Gatti's Pizza (503 W. MLK) will close the popular all-you-can-eat buffet location on May 28, because they were unable to renegotiate their lease. Six other outlets remain open around town. Until closing, the price on the buffet near UT is $5.49 for all ages. The company is also auctioning off artwork and memorabilia from the restaurant to benefit the family of Jeremy Barta, a Gatti's employee killed in a recent MetroRail collision. Online bidding is open until June 18, at www.gattispizzaaustin.com/charityauction.php.
I noticed some new restaurant activity on East Cesar Chavez on the way home from Pachanga Fest recently. Cenoté Cafe (1010 E. Cesar Chavez) is located in an attractively restored 19th century home with outdoor seating in the yard. They offer brunch until 4pm daily, and a limited evening menu until 11pm – complemented by Cuvee coffees, draft beer, and wine. I also ran into Gabe Harrelson working on the building that formerly housed Azul and Shuck Shack, at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Chicon. He and partner Kathyrn Weatherup relocated from NYC with plans to open Weatherup's (1808 E. Cesar Chavez), a cocktail bar with a limited food menu, in that location this summer.
One of most interesting facets of this job is the opportunity to try out new food products, and there's been a deluge of new items showing up at the office lately. Sometimes, I'm just not the right market for what the company has to offer – such as single service soy sauce, chia seed energy drinks, or mung bean-flavored ice milk – but there have been some consensus winners around the office. Justin Huskisson parked one of his colorful Kona Ice trucks in our parking lot a while back and delighted the kid in all of us with refreshing shaved ice cones. Rather than parking in designated locations, Huskisson's fleet of trucks are available for hire at the location of your choice: such as swimming pools and sports fields, birthday parties, day care or school programs, and outdoor events, festivals, or fundraisers. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss bookings... Multiple new flavors of Talenti gelato were another big sweet hit among my colleagues, though none of this year's offerings achieved the pinnacle of last year's Eggnog flavor for me... The editorial staff noshed on samples of Boar's Head's new "Bold" product line: very spicy sliced jerk chicken and turkey paired with chipotle gouda and three pepper monterey jack cheeses. I found the cheeses particularly appealing, and can see either of them working well in my savory cheese wafer recipe.
Chef/restaurateur Hoover Alexander and the staff at Hoover's Cooking are mourning the passing of longtime Central Texas restaurant professional Vernon O'Rourke, age 56, who died Sunday of esophageal cancer. The two men became friends working in the Nighthawk organization in the early Eighties, and Vernon later invested in Hoover's dream of owning his own restaurant. He's survived by his wife Linda, son Thomas, and daughter Heather.
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