Taverna – Austin, Texas
Taverna – Austin, TexasSep 11
The Lombardi Family implements a winning formula in their restaurant brands – supply customers with fresh, contemporary European cuisine and warm hospitality in a space they can relax and enjoy with friends and family. While that sounds like an incredibly obvious and simple strategy, they just do it well. At the Austin, Texas location of Taverna, the Lombardi’s “Pizzeria and Risotteria” brand, the lofted ceilings and bright, traditionally rustic decor complement the modern take on a traditional Italian menu well.
Located in downtown Austin on West 2nd Avenue, Taverna attracts young professionals and college students looking for an after work happy hour deal or a more refined fix for their insatiable pizza cravings. The weekly dinner menu is a bit predictable for a “hip” neighborhood Italian joint but is a nice place to take a date or visiting family member for an approachable but upscale experience. However, Taverna’s greatest appeal is certainly their popular weekend brunch, where a packed house comes for the $1 mimosas and frozen peach Bellinis and stays for an enjoyable meal shared with friends. On a Sunday the wait may cost you 30 to 40 minutes, but with $1 champagne cocktails, belly up to the bar with the rest of the young, well-dressed crowd and you may just be able to reclassify your “wait” as a brunch “pregame.”
At brunch last weekend I learned that while the mimosas have a surprisingly satisfying champagne to orange juice ratio (read: they do not skimp on the champs), the food is a bit hit or miss. Some of the dishes are just delightful like the incredibly fresh and light Buffalo Mozzarella Caprese ($12.50) and must-try Carpaccio di Manzo ($10.50), while others were mediocre like the slightly overcooked Frittata of the Day. The Pizza California ($13.50) had a pleasing arrangement of fresh toppings that elevated the lackluster crust, but was overall less than memorable. Although I appreciated that Taverna only uses carnaroli rice (a.k.a. “The King of Rice”) in their risottos, I was sadly disappointed in the Risotto con Gamberi e Prosecco ($17.50). While the dish was flavored nicely with truffle oil and pesto, the texture lacked the signature risotto density and creaminess I adore so much and I was shocked at the soggy, flavorless miniature shrimp that seemed more fitting for a low-budget chinese buffet than a signature dish at a self-proclaimed risotteria! Perhaps I had set myself up for disappointment having envisioned a few plump, wild caught seared or grilled shrimp perched upon my lovely mound of risotto, but I digress. Despite just a few shortcomings with the meals, the service was pleasant and the atmosphere jovial, making for a thoroughly enjoyable Sunday afternoon (and I promise that’s not just the mimosas talking 😉 )
258 West 2nd Street