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Good Italian, south or central?

Helvella Nov 1, 2010 03:29 PM

My daughter, for her 10 year old birthday dinner, has requested we have Italian. "Good Italian" she says, "like, reservation quality Italian" :). Like her parents, she likes to try new things and appreciates fine quality food!

We live in Bastrop and don't get out to Austin often - and then typically not for Italian - so I don't know what's good these days.

The kids are old enough that it doesn't need to be somewhere "family friendly", but, they're still young enough that'd we'd prefer not to go to a hot couples spot where there will be a massive wait. Also given that the kids are good eaters we'd prefer not to go to the most expensive places.

Any suggestions?

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  1. t
    travisleroy RE: Helvella Nov 1, 2010 07:00 PM

    Asti, at 43rd and Duval.

    1. n
      NirvRush RE: Helvella Nov 2, 2010 07:22 AM

      Vespaio Enoteca on S. congress

      1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

      1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

      1. g
        gilintx RE: Helvella Nov 2, 2010 12:15 PM

        Not sure how this will go over, but Cannoli Joe's on 290 is supposed to be fairly decent. Yes, it's a buffet, which rightfully might sound scary, but the reviews I've read put it well above your typical buffet fare. The menu looks pretty diverse, and you wouldn't have to worry about a wait. The prices are certainly comparable to what you would get at an a la carte joint, even an inexpensive one.

        Cannoli Joe's
        4715 W Highway 290, Austin, TX 78701

        4 Replies
        1. re: gilintx
          TroyTempest RE: gilintx Nov 2, 2010 04:13 PM

          You know, kids might like it, depending on how discriminating the palate. It has been a couple of years since i have been, and yeah it is better than most buffets. But, nothing was really great. It was all just ok.

          For pretty good family enjoyable Italian, i might be inclined to recommend that all you can eat Italian place in the domain. Can't remember the name.
          I've been to the one in Dallas, and as i recall, it was pretty decent.

          1. re: TroyTempest
            TroyTempest RE: TroyTempest Nov 3, 2010 08:03 AM

            after re-reading your initial post Maggiano's (it came to me later) is north, not south or central.

            1. re: TroyTempest
              stephanieh RE: TroyTempest Nov 3, 2010 08:08 PM

              Maggiano's or even Buca di Beppo, while chains, are both far better choices than Cannoli Joe's. Well, unless you like pastas prepared casserole style that around on a buffet getting soggy. I guess it would be ok for really small children.

              Verona Ristorante in Oak Hill is south and I had a really well prepared carbonara there awhile back. We don't get out that direction often, but it's definitely some place I'd go back. Their website is terrible, but you'll get an idea of the menu http://www.veronaustin.com/

              What I remember about the ambience, it's small and rides the line between bistro and kitsch... ie wine-colored walls with trompe l'oeil in the back.

              Enoteca Vespaio is also a solid choice. I haven't been to Asti. I've been meaning to.

              1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

              Cannoli Joe's
              4715 W Highway 290, Austin, TX 78701

              1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

              1. re: stephanieh
                Helind RE: stephanieh Nov 3, 2010 08:39 PM

                I was going to suggest Buca di Beppo too but was afraid to because I wasn't sure if you'd consider a chain. It might be a fun place for kids. I don't usually like chains but went to a family gathering there and had a good time.

        2. p
          paternite RE: Helvella Nov 2, 2010 02:02 PM

          Mandola's at the Triangle. Family friendly in the sense that there is something for everybody.
          Wood-fired pizza is good as is the gelato.

          3 Replies
          1. re: paternite
            rusty_s RE: paternite Nov 5, 2010 12:50 PM

            I love Mandola's, and the market makes me happy like I'm back in my grandmother's pantry. But it's a stand-in-line-and-order, get-your-own-tea kind of place, not a reservations kind of place.

            Has anyone been to Andiamo lately? Yes, it's up North but if it's still there and still good, it's exactly the thing you're looking for. White tablecloths, but traditional Italian-American (entire family welcome. I haven't eaten there in at least a year, though.

            1. re: rusty_s
              stephanieh RE: rusty_s Nov 5, 2010 04:09 PM

              Mandola's is delicious, but you're right, it's self-service. Don't they come around and offer refills after you're seated, though? It makes me happy too!

              I haven't been to Andiamo in over a year either, but the last time was the LAST time. We'd liked it before for dinner, but we went for lunch, and our waiter just disappeared - I mean he actually left the building - and nobody noticed. We had to track down the hostess to pay the check (and she wasn't too happy about that). Another thing, although they have white tablecloths, the interior always seemed a little bit dated and dreary to me.

              1. re: stephanieh
                rudeboy RE: stephanieh Nov 5, 2010 06:25 PM

                I can see that, especially in the daytime on a cloudy day. I've only been at night, three times when the owner was there, and once when he wasn't. The time that he wasn't wasn't nearly as pleasurable for both food and service.

          2. Helvella RE: Helvella Nov 3, 2010 06:33 PM

            Thanks for the responses. I did know about Vespaio Enoteca, but the only time I've eaten there was for a weekday lunch - every time we've tried to go there on a weekend evening the wait was at least 2 hours and they don't take reservations.

            1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

            1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

            1 Reply
            1. re: Helvella
              Steven Dilley RE: Helvella Nov 5, 2010 01:08 PM

              I'll second Asti. It's close to 'reservation quality' and the experience would likely be a real treat for a 10 yr old. Not too expensive and certainly more memorable than a buffet or chain restaurant.

            2. rudeboy RE: Helvella Nov 5, 2010 02:33 PM

              Andiamo is probably too far north (Burnet and Rutland). When the owner is there, it's great, and you get really personalized service. Anybody been lately?

              2 Replies
              1. re: rudeboy
                Madcap RE: rudeboy Nov 18, 2010 01:36 PM

                I ate there last Friday night for the first time and was not impressed. The service was terrible. Our waiter paid a lot of attention to the couple at the next table (who appeared to be regulars), and zero attention to us. We waited a good 25 minutes after finishing our meal before we received the check. The food wasn't bad, but was very overpriced for the quality. An $18 plate of linguini should knock my socks off, and it just didn't. I don't plan on going back.

                1. re: Madcap
                  amysuehere RE: Madcap Nov 19, 2010 06:35 AM

                  I went once to Adniamo's at lunch and can't remember the specifics except that I vowed not to go back.

              2. tim irvine RE: Helvella Nov 5, 2010 08:27 PM

                The Bolognese at La Traviata is scrumptious

                La Traviata
                314 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

                1. s
                  stephanieh RE: Helvella Nov 6, 2010 05:58 PM

                  Helvella, I don't want to get too off topic, but since you're from Bastrop and you're interested in Italian, I have to ask... do you know anything about the Cedars Grill in Bastrop? Their website says they are the #1 Italian restaurant in Bastrop Cnty. I was wondering if it would be worth a trip from NW Austin to check it out.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: stephanieh
                    karma belle RE: stephanieh Nov 19, 2010 09:40 AM

                    I ate at the Cedars Grill last year. It isn't strictly Italian fare, they offer other Mediterranean dishes as well (like baba ganoush and hummus). Since the visit was over a year ago, I can't remember exactly what we ordered, but I do remember thinking the food reminded me of Baris in Pflugerville. Acceptable pasta dishes, a little over seasoned, but not necessarily worth the drive if you don't live in town.

                    1. re: karma belle
                      stephanieh RE: karma belle Nov 19, 2010 11:07 AM

                      Thank you! That's a good point of reference for me. I've been to Baris in Pflugerville, and thought it was ok, and pretty cheap, but it wasn't anything I'd crave.

                  2. TroyTempest RE: Helvella Nov 18, 2010 06:21 AM

                    So, where did you end up going?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: TroyTempest
                      Helvella RE: TroyTempest Dec 9, 2010 08:14 PM

                      We went to Cedar's in Bastrop. and it wasn't good :(. Definitely not worth the trip out here from Austin. They make a couple very nice soups, a crawfish chowder and a lemon lentil, and the Lebanese fare that came over from Daddy's Castle when they closed and merged is decent, but I don't like their Italian. It tends to be greasy and over-salted. I still owe the girl a trip to a good Italian restaurant... I'm going to have to see what I can arrange over the holiday break.

                      1. re: Helvella
                        dinaofdoom RE: Helvella Dec 10, 2010 06:29 PM

                        bummer, helvella.
                        please post and let us know when you had your second go.

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