Italic is open! After a soft opening, yesterday was the first service to the public at the newest hot spot of the ELM Restaurant Group (Easy Tiger, 24 Diner, Arro). Italic is reservations only right now, but is expected to move toward accepting walk in diners as well. You’ll need to look for the red rectangle on the bottom right of their website to be whisked away to their Open Table reservations page.
My family and I dined at Italic during their soft opening, and it was an adventure in more ways than one. First, with no babysitter available, our kindergartner joined us at the table. Oh yes, our ultra picky son, who seems to happily thrive on a combination of fresh air, microwaveable mac & cheese bowls, and kisses. I despair over his finicky attitude toward food, as I have always been an adventurous eater. He turned his nose up at the marvelous cheese tray, featuring Antonelli’s delightful array of Pecorino Toscano, Taleggio, Gorgonzola Piccante, and Marzolino Rosso with a fig & pistachio mostarda. Instead of lovely fromage, he ate several slices of bread. For myself, that gorgonzola was the bee’s knees. Such a luscious flavor, rich without overwhelming your tastebuds. The Taleggio was also a standout.
We ordered our son’s pizza to come out at the same time as the cheese, since he had informed us he was “hangry.” Our waiter suggested the sopressata pizza, as it is the closest to a pepperoni pizza. Sadly, this mama was remiss in reading the menu and when the pizza arrived, with fontina, honey, red chile flakes and a goodly amount of basil topping it, I knew it was not a solid choice for our boy. He took a long, long time holding a slice and letting the honey drip off of it, his face a study in disappointment. One bite in, and tears started to form in his eyes. He was hungry but this was not his style of pie. Immediately, a manager came up to him and asked if he’d prefer a cheese pizza. I had no idea anyone had been watching him but us. Our son happily agreed, and I handed him another slice of bread. After sampling the utterly amazing pizza, it was probably a good thing he didn’t eat a large bite. The honey and red chile combo is a mouthgasm, but a spicy one, too spicy for him. I loved it. I’d eat this pizza any day, with a glass or two of the lambrusco.
Oh, the lambrusco! Sommelier Craig Collins has brought in divine wines, including a Sorbara Cleto Chiarli Vecchia Modena Lambrusco. When I complimented its flavor, I was told that Collins has kicked off a #LambruscoRevolution to show Austinites that lambrusco isn’t the overly sweet, fizzy wine on par with a wine cooler that so many of our mothers and grandmothers indulged in during the 1970’s. Indeed, this ain’t yo mama’s lambrusco. I enjoyed the delicate flavor and effervesence, and vowed that this will be my go-to wine for Spring and summer’s heat. I’m a die hard fan now, and will do my part in ensuring success in the #LambruscoRevolution! Fear not, cocktail and beer lovers. There are plenty of Italian and American craft beers on the drink menu, along with cocktails such as the negroni, and a lemoncello martini that I need to try, soon.
My husband and I took advantage of the “tasting” size of pastas on the menu, and ordered several. Like father, like son, my spouse was an extremely picky eater until I breezed into his life. He’s still not a fan of fancy meals, preferring a more casual atmosphere. Completely at ease at Italic, he dug into our choices with gusto, and proclaimed the Penne Rigate alla Bolognese with its beef, pork, white wine and cream as his favorite, calling it extreme comfort food. I was shocked when our son asked for bucatini, and although he did not use a fork to eat his “noodle worms,” I happily ignored his impolite table manners. The child who refuses to eat any pasta unless it is free from all types of sauce gobbled up a decent amount of bucatini. Thank you, Chef!
Chef Andrew Curran has knocked it out of the park with his menu at Italic. Guanciale lovers, the Spaghetti Carbonara is your dish. Rich, indulgent and very satisfying, you’ll enjoy each bite. The sea scallops are on the top of my list for return visits, along with the Niman Ranch tomahawk pork chop, and the burrata that I wish I had ordered. The scallops were perfection to me, and I relished each bite. I have a thing for “seafood marshmallows” as my friend calls them. They have a distinctive sweet, fresh, ocean-y flavor that I adore. Italic sears the scallops, and serves them atop lemon risotto.
During our meal, we enjoyed impeccable service. Our waiter was charming and attentive, as was John, the manager on duty that evening. John came to the rescue when our son dropped his glass of milk, handling the situation with grace. I am ever so grateful to whomever chose the water glasses, as they are quite durable. In our kiddo’s defense, we never allow him to use glassware at home. I think we’ve done him a disservice, and will now begin offering up our own glasses as a sacrifice to the fine dining gods, so he may learn to better hold on to one when condensation makes it slippery.
Although I was too full to enjoy dessert, I did have a tiny taste of my son’s stracciatella gelato. I vowed that on future visits I will order dessert, most likely the walnut olive oil cake or the farm-to-table crostata, with grapefruit, mascarpone and black pepper . Mmmm, such decadence!
With the excellent service, a fantastic wine list, and flavorful food offerings, I can see Italic becoming a mainstay in downtown Austin. It’s small enough to be cozy, yet the open interior design gives it the feel of a larger space. The floor-to-ceiling windows that slide open to the sidewalk are wonderful, allowing you to feel as if you were dining on a patio, but with more comfort. I’d label this restaurant in many ways, as it would be fitting for a business luncheon as well as date night, and for an upscale family dinner.
Italic is located at 123 W. 6th St., at the intersection of 6th and Colorado. There is street parking at meters, and a nearby valet ($7). Follow the restaurant on Twitter, like them on Facebook and drool over their food porn on Instagram. They’re open Mon – Thurs from 11:00am until 10:30pm, Friday from 11:00am until 11:00pm, Saturday is dinner only from 5:00pm until 11:00pm, and Sunday from 10:30am until 10:30pm. Happy hour is Monday – Friday from 4:30 until 6:30 and features $1 off all draught beers, house wine at $4/glass or $16/litre, and $8 negronis. Served free of charge is the “daily foccacia,” freshly baked foccacia “sandwiched with meats and cheeses” to nosh on while you enjoy a relaxing libation.