PSA: Avoid the Truly Awful "Truffle" Pizza at Cipollina
Right after I moved here, I enjoyed the bacon, arugula, and gorgonzola pizza at Cipollina a few times, even though I didn't love the crust (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/92679 ).
I recently returned there after a considerable absence. Pizzas are still half-price in the early evening (from about 3:30 until 5:30 P.M.), so I tried one with fresh rosemary, garlic, and truffle oil. This is usually a pizza bianco (white pizza—but no cheese) with plenty of rosemary sprigs, crushed garlic, and a generous amount of truffle oil on plain pizza dough. You need to really have good dough to showcase its flavor on a cheeseless pizza, which is far from a sure bet at Austin pizzerias. Truffle oil can also be of poor quality, but that wasn't the problem at Cipollina. In fact, I couldn't taste any truffle oil at all. The real offense was the extremely heavy dusting of cheap, granulated garlic that covered every inch of the pie. They used a base of standard shredded (not fresh) mozzarella on the pizza, too, but that powdery dusting of garlic was the dominant flavor. It was truly disgusting.
I also sampled a colleague's lamb sandwich, which someone recently praised on the Foodheads thread (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/410623 ). I didn't care for the flavor combination (too sweet) or the extremely oily focaccia-style bun that it came on. My colleague thought it was good enough. The stracciatelle soup tasted mainly like canned tomatoes and was not worth re-ordering, in my opinion.
I noticed that they've taken out the glass case of cold dishes in the front and the "dessert case" on the side. They still do take-out, though, so this is mainly a question of adopting a more bistro-like rather than Italian-takeout-shop ambience. The restaurant was about 1/4 full when I stopped by.
I went to Cipollina for the second time this week, apparently forgetting that my first trip (and lamb sandwich) was not a particularly rewarding one.
But I have a friend who lives down the road, who hadn't been there, so we decided to check it out. I ordered a french onion soup to start, which was about as standard of a french onion soup as one could hope to find. You'd be better off at Le Madeleine. My friend ordered the ravioli, I decided to try the pork scallopine. A scallopine weekend for me -- I had the chicken scallopine special at Enoteca the night before, which with polenta and spinach, was excellent. The pork scallopine at Cipollina just tasted off, a mix of conflicting flavors, on a mess of a plate. You had the pork with scattered capers and artichoke heart pieces and undercooked cauliflower and carrot, in an also-too-sweet sauce atop a bed of orzo. The meat was OK and kind of saved the dish but, again, the flavor combination often didn't work, at all.
My friend's ravioli was served in a sauce that seemed eerily similar to my french onion soup. The ravioli were overstuffed with some bacony combination and the pasta seemed undercooked. The sauce was just plain bizarre.
Don't think I'll be returning.