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Good Italian, south or central?

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. Asti, at 43rd and Duval.

    1. Vespaio Enoteca on S. congress

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      Vespaio
      1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

      Enoteca
      1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

      1. 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.

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

        4 Replies
        1. re: gilintx

          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

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

            1. re: TroyTempest

              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.

              -----
              Vespaio
              1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

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

              Enoteca
              1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

              1. re: stephanieh

                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. 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

            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

              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

                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. 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.

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            Vespaio
            1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

            Enoteca
            1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

            1 Reply
            1. re: Helvella

              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.