Though Mellow Mushroom is filled with funky art and groovy hippie vibes, their chefs are dead serious about perfecting the art of pizza. From a purposefully tacky ‘60s-themed storefront, the laid back team specializes in stone-baked pies using locally sourced ingredients, all natural free-range meats and fresh produce. As the name would indicate, Mellow Mushroom even offers Daiya vegan (milk and soy-free) cheese, as well as a generous selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Their location close to the University of Texas, their masterful pizza options and their wide selection of craft beers all combine to make Mellow Mushroom a favorite with college kids and families alike.
As a young chef just starting out, Jason Tallent had cooked his way up the ladder, working directly under James Beard Foundation Award–winning chefs. After moving to Austin, he took the reins on the 34th Street Café, designing a farm-to-table menu of upscale New American comfort food. He and his team layer hormone-free meats and local, organic veggies to revamp beloved lunch sandwiches such as the BLT, Reuben, or ham and swiss. During the dinner rush, the menu throws on its formal wear for dishes such as crispy risotto with truffle cheese or panko-crusted chicken picatta drizzled with beurre blanc and sprinkled with capers. Affable owner Eddie Bernal keeps the restaurant’s laser-like focus on serving ethical, delicious café cuisine, while high ceilings and a spacious dining room offer guests plenty of room to relax during lunch, dinner, or Twister matches that determine who’s picking up the tab.
At The Brick Oven on 35th, which has run under its current owners since 2000, grains from around the world pervade the crusts of 10 signature pizzas baked in wood-fired brick ovens, and housemade bread accompanies pasta plates such as baked spinach ravioli. All-natural, range-free chicken and beef adorn dishes, and the staff also concocts vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free pies and entrees. Feasters can savor their Italian treats while sitting amid white tablecloths in the indoor dining room, luxuriating on the outdoor patio, or in the middle of a high-speed gondola pursuit via delivery and catering services.
In Italy, a "sagra" is a festival where a community comes together in celebration of a local ingredient or dish—a tradition that fits Gabriel Pellegrini's enoteca and trattoria in both spirit and practice. Classic, bistro-style Italian cuisine joins local, Texan ingredients and flavors to create an entire menu worthy of commemoration. But that isn't to say all the ingredients are local. Imported Mediterranean cheeses and cured meats join house-made mozzarella atop hand-stretched neapolitan pizzas before bubbling gold in a wood-burning stove.
Such dedication to craft and quality carries over into the bar. Shelves brim with liqueurs, grappas, and wines imported from Italy, but the bartenders grow their own herbs, make their own bitters, and infuse syrups and spirits in-house for cocktails that are inimitable in freshness and flavor.
Located in the heart of Austin, the building's custard-yellow and sunset-orange walls complement the warm earth tones of well-trodden floorboards. Black banquettes and chairs surround white linen-draped tables. During the day, natural light streams in through the windows, but at night the soft glow of flickering wall sconces and pendant lamps suffuses the dining area—a suitable atmosphere for a romantic evening or shadow-puppet reenactment of the Battle of Philippi.
Lavazza has been brewing rich, flavorful Italian espresso for 110 years, but guests didn?t have a place to sit down and enjoy it until Lavazza Espression caf?s began popping up in 2007. At locations throughout the world, guests savor the renowned brew alongside a menu of freshly baked pastries, breakfast bites, and light caf? fare. Diners sip glasses of cream-topped caf? mochas and spoon bites gelato, or do both with chef Ferran Adria's signature edible Espesso?not espresso: think coffee with a solid, foamy consistency. Margherita pizzas, mushroom paninis, and goat cheese salads make for elegant light lunches, and bites of scones and Italian-style quiche greet the morning gourmet-style.
The modern refinement extends to the d?cor, as diners slip into retro-futuristic red and white chairs and pull up to glossy mod tables. Visually arresting photographs from Lavazza calendars cover the walls, along with shelves stocked with portable Modo Mio espresso machines and fair-trade coffee.
Due Forni captivates diners with a menu of authentic Italian antipasti and brick oven pizzas culled from imported ingredients and the masterpiece recipes from executive chef Carlos Buscaglia. San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo-milk mozzarella top Neapolitan pies?known for their bubbly, chewy crusts?or Roman pizzas, which are famous for their cracker-thin crust and Republican system of government. Patrons munch on beet and goat cheese salad and carpaccio plates, or sample a diverse array of more than 40 vinos at the wine bar as they enjoy the sounds of upbeat Italian jazz. Spaghetti Westerns play on high-definition flat-screen TVs throughout the earth-hued and orange space, and an open kitchen fills the main dining area with the exciting sights and sounds of masterful foodcraft.