Salvation Pizza dishes up from-scratch New Haven-style pizzas in a cozy bungalow that's more than 80 years old. Every day, Salvation's expert hand-hurlers toss dough high and dice up fresh fruits and veggies with the help of an added arsenal of animatronic arms. Guests can elevate taste buds to rapturous heights with savory selections of thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas, such as the asparagus, bacon, and jalapeño pie ($12.50 small, $17 large) or white-clam pizza ($13 small, $18 large), each served with homemade sauces and dressings. A daily lunch special ($5.99) sates thrifty diners with two hand-tossed slices, a crisp, small salad, and 16-ounce soda. Salvation's adventurous staff encourages diners to propose substitutions and bring in their own gluten-free crust, soy cheese, and crushed-up Noid action figures.
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.
Austin Java incorporates fresh, local ingredients into its menu whenever possible, serving only cage- and hormone-free eggs and organic, fair-trade coffee, prepared locally using a low-emission, biofuel-powered roaster. Sample the community-minded cuisine by diving fork-first into breakfast (served all day), lunch, and dinner. The Caesar Chavez salad, a highly organized concoction of romaine lettuce, leads croutons and parmesan cheese on a victory march to your mouth ($5.99), while vegetarian-friendly options such as the confetti pasta ($8.99) and the spicy African peanut soup ($3.99 for a cup, $4.99 for a bowl) keep hungry herbivoyeurs in check. Build your own burger ($7.79, with additional ingredients $0.59–$0.99 each), or decode the DaVinci chicken sandwich, topped with marinara, parmesan ($8.29), and the blueprint for a flying machine. Austin Java also offers all-day breakfast, with options such as omelettes ($7.29–$8.99), eggs benedicts ($7.79–$7.99), and build-your-own-breakfast tacos ($1.99 with three ingredients; $0.69 for each additional item) pleasing palates. The Barton Springs location also boasts a new full bar, allowing for savory sips of brews and booze between burger or breakfast taco bites.