Olive Garden Italian Restaurant
3940 S. Lamar, Austin, 78704, 512/440-0131
Hours: Sun.-Thu., 11am-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-11pm
This chain eatery serves reliable, generic Italian food at reasonable prices. A popular family place and a safe choice for those who fear the food-unknown.
Start with the Barbabietola salad of beets, farro, and goat cheese; heirloom tomato caprese; or perfectly delightful arugula-and-prosciutto pizza, and move on to stand-outs such as the hearty cioppino, chock-full of mussels, shrimp, and fish, in a rich, aromatic broth, and the Bistecca, which is a toothsome 10-ounce ribeye. The latter is paired with cauliflower and topped with gorgonzola, a vegetable side dish idea worth stealing.
3403 S. Lamar, 512/900-8670
The menu here draws inspiration from around the Mediterranean, offering up dishes from Italy, the Middle East, even the south of France. Fans of Fox's other restaurants will be pleased to see some dishes from Fino, and there are house-made pastas and small, crisp-crust pizzas reminiscent of Asti.
1100 S. Lamar #2115
The main room is a bacchanalia of brass and Carrara marble here, and others beckon, including a mirrored central room with lower lighting. A considerable selection of by-the-glass wines and some lower octane cocktails are paired with a bar menu of affordable antipasti and pizza. The main menu highlights pasta, all made in-house. Try the Texas Quail al Forno or seared scallops with risotto.
1500 Barton Springs Rd., 512/479-1800