Austin isn't really known for its Italian food, but when Austinites want Italian, this is their preferred destination. Vespaio's swanked-up old storefront with lots of exposed brick and glass is an elegant setting, and the food is worth waiting for, but you can drop quite a bit of dough on expensive wines while you're doing so. Your best bet is to get an order of the crispy calamari (they're huge) while you're waiting for a table. The spaghetti alla carbonara is super, as is the veal scallopini with mushrooms. Many come for the pizza. Try the boscaiola, topped with wild boar sausage and Cambozola cheese. Among the 10 chalkboard specials offered nightly, the mixed meat and seafood grills are usually top-notch. It's important to note that reservations are limited to off-peak hours and days .
Next door to Vespaio is the Enoteca, which is more informal, a bit less expensive, and offers lighter fare. It's open for lunch and dinner. The dining room is a little more cramped but is a very attractive space, perfect for an afternoon coffee, a panini, or a glass of wine. There's a small outdoor patio, too. One of the starters served here is a plate of crispy fried risotto balls filled with fontina. There's a small cold case filled with Italian delicacies for those interested in taking something back to the hotel room.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2010