The Best Italian Restaurants In AustinThe best spots in Austin to get pasta, pizza, dry-aged steaks, and everything in between.
While Austin might be better known for our excellent Tex-Mex, barbecue, and breakfast tacos, we have a surprising amount of great Italian spots hiding in the warm shadows across the city. Whether you’re looking for a casual new neighborhood spot for a Tuesday night bowl of fettuccine, a steakhouse where you can order a 50 day dry-aged “la fiorentina,” or somewhere to dress up a little and sip on big Italian reds while you purse and shake your fingers over a bowl of risotto, these are the very best Italian restaurants in Austin. And if you’re in the market for some pizza or pasta, don’t worry, we’ve got guides for those, too.
Picture an impossibly cute little cafe with floor-to-ceiling windows tucked between a small pedestrian-only shopping center and a picturesque park with a lake in Mueller. Then open your eyes and head to L’Oca D’oro, where it all becomes reality. The menu here changes as often as the seasons, which just means you can come back for repeat visits without ever getting bored. But if you’re ever finding yourself bored of perfectly chewy mafaldine, sweet and smoky charred beets, or creamy mozzarella, maybe you should just go get a burger somewhere instead.
All of the pasta dishes at Patrizi’s start with a fettuccine base, which means that the cacio e pepe or carbonara you order might look a bit wider and flatter than with its more common spaghetti counterpart. And it’s all made from scratch, which becomes apparent after a few bites of textured al dente noodles. If anything, it all just adds to the rustic feel of dining at a semi-permanent trailer on a dirt patio in the back of a neighborhood bar in East Austin. And when you want the same pasta in a slightly more refined setting, there’s a brick-and-mortar location out in Cuernavaca, with the same pasta menu by night, plus sandwiches during the day.
True to the spirit of an Italian trattoria, the menu at Asti in Hyde Park is short and focused. And while you can get the basics like pizza and risotto and an enormous chicken parm, you’re here for the pastas. They’re made in house, seasonal, beautifully cooked al dente, and always sensational—especially the spicy rigatoni amatriciana and the epic lasagna rotolo. The wines are unsurprisingly all-Italian, and the list runs deep, from rather affordable options to the more extravagant varieties. Still, bottles and glasses are also regularly on special offer.
The menu changes pretty regularly at Intero—a romantic, dimly lit Italian restaurant on East Cesar Chavez. Which means that when the craving for housemade bucatini with grilled corn and truffle-studded sottocenere strikes, you might not be able to satisfy it as readily as you’d like. That’s OK. Just blindly point at whatever pastas Intero has any given day and you’ll leave with a new favorite. There are also solid pizzas and large-format meat dishes that we usually reserve for larger group dinners (only so that we can order more pasta). Afterwards, be sure to order a few pieces of the housemade chocolate. Intero lives a strange double life as an Italian restaurant and chocolate shop, and somehow manages to excel at both.
Dining on Olive & June’s patio almost feels like you’re eating in a tree house, with a three-story patio built around a giant 200-year-old oak tree near 35th and MoPac. Order some crudo and bruschetta to start, then get some pappardelle with braised short rib ragu. It’s rich, savory, and strong enough to pair with even the boldest reds you might find on the large wine menu. Come at Happy Hour for half-off most drinks, but show up during sunset for an experience that’s difficult to replicate. Unless you happen to have your own treehouse, complete with a wine cellar and an excellent pasta program.
Bufalina is a cool little spot on Cesar Chavez serving excellent bubbly crust pizza that range from classic margherita pies to more creative versions (like one that combines taleggio and scallions). The natural wine list is phenomenal, especially the by-the-glass selection. And while you can get simple seasonal salads and stracciatella on toast, you’ll want to order as many of the rotating fresh handmade pastas as can fit on the table (or maybe even more). The biggest challenge is figuring out how many leftovers you’re going to take home.
When you and your date can’t decide between pizza and pasta, but still want an excuse to dress up and eat in a sleek, dark dining room on the East Side, head to Il Brutto. The wide-ranging menu covers a wide range of Italian classics—from crudos and crostinis to house-made pastas and confited tenderloins—and it covers them all pretty well. But if you want to hit Il Brutto where it’s strongest, stick to just about anything off the antipasti or the pasta sides of the menu. Even better, show up during Happy Hour and you can grab an excellent olive fat-washed martini—or just about anything off the drink menu—for half price.
One of the toughest reservations in Austin, Red Ash downtown is basically a steakhouse with heavy Italian influences. But it’s not all vaguely Italian dry-aged steaks and bone marrow dishes. There’s also a full menu of great pastas, most of which you can order in half-portions. That means you can fill your table with small plates of tagliatelle alla bolognese, gnocchi gratinata, and red wine-braised beef ravioli with fresh truffles, before playing an awkward game of plate-shuffling when your 50-day dry aged tomahawk eventually shows up.
The tightly packed dining room at Sammie’s—complete with red and black checkered floor tiles, white tablecloths, and framed photos on the walls—makes it seem a lot older than it is. It feels like a red sauce restaurant that grew up in New York’s Little Italy before moving to downtown Austin. And while this intense level of detail also means some occasionally high prices, it’s also accompanied by an excellent menu of comforting classic dishes, including housemade pastas, creamy mozzarella sticks, and an order of chicken parm bigger than your head. Head to Sammie’s when you want a fun, high energy night out with one-too-many martinis, an extensive wine list, and a credit card bill you’ll probably regret in the morning (just a little bit).
Think of a pasta spot, and you're probably not imagining a trailer in a food truck park. But that’s Artipasta—and they’re serving some of the most well-executed fresh pasta in town. Everything is house-made, and the level of attention to detail is rare for any restaurant, let alone a trailer. Sure, you might be eating out of plastic takeout containers on a picnic table (there’s also a brick and mortar location in Highland), but the basil pesto with gnocchi and tagliatelle with meat sauce are superb, transformative, and worth going out of your way for.
A South Congress landmark for over 25 years, Vespaio has developed a reputation as one of the best spots in the area for both a romantic dinner and a classic Italian meal. The dining room is romantic and dimly lit, but our favorite spot remains the cozy bar, where we’ll happily order a few of the fresh pastas that come in half sizes. But no matter where you eat, you’ll have access to the full menu of housemade pastas, seasonal salads, pizzas, and an excellent list of Italian-leaning wines.
Juniper in East Austin may have a sleek, modern interior, but a meal here—made up of a series of tiny plates inspired by Northern Italy—feels surprisingly homey. And as much as we love a set menu experience, the a la carte menu really lets you double down on Juniper’s carb-based strengths. Start with a salad so it counts as a balanced meal, then fill your table with as many small plates of bucatini, paccheri, campanelle, and whatever other pastas might be available on any given day.
Mandola’s in The Triangle feels a little bit like a movie set for a film about a casual Italian restaurant in a big city somewhere, complete with a little marketplace selling imported olive oils and dried pastas right next to kitschy posters and tall stacks of wine bottles. Stop in during the day for a lunch-only personal pizza or half panini, or show up for dinner and choose from a greatest hits list of Italian-American classics like fettuccine alfredo, eggplant parm, and spaghetti bolognese. None of it will blow your mind, but you’ll leave satisfied and with a small box of leftovers. You can also get gelato.