ATXReview

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Sammie’s review image
8.3

Sammie’s Italian

RESERVE A TABLE

POWERED BY

open table

Sammie’s feels like it was plucked out of a movie set for a film about the Italian mafia set in some city with long alleys. Where comforting bowls of pasta and warm, dimly-lit interiors are more features of necessity than design. It’s the type of place where The Office and Sopranos fans alike can come in, order a martini, and ask for the gabagool (sadly, not actually on the menu). Sammie’s is the luxury version of a classic Italian-American red sauce restaurant, where they’re serving excellent comfort food at fine dining prices—and if you’re willing to pay for it, it’s an experience that’s difficult to replicate anywhere else in Austin. 

There’s kind of a formula for these classic red sauce joints. A martini menu is, in our opinion, essential. It must contain more than one variation, but no more than five (unless we’re just calling everything in a v-shaped glass a martini now). There should be plenty of simple, comforting pasta dishes doused in a thick, tasty tomato sauce. And there are usually enough framed photos hanging on the walls that you’ll feel like you’re back home visiting your grandparents (Sammie’s even has Werther’s Originals in the bathroom). 

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Sammie’s review image

That’s exactly what Sammie’s is—a red sauce restaurant that feels like it grew up in New York’s Little Italy before moving to downtown Austin. But while most places that fit this mold come with a rich history—secret recipes and family drama included—Sammie’s is young and new, but playing its role with the grizzled expertise of that regular at your local dive bar who’s been through it all and probably seen some sh*t.

The tables are packed in tight, and they’re always full. It gets loud in here, but in a way that feels more lively than chaotic. If you didn’t make a reservation last month, you can usually snag a seat at the bar, where you can chew your pasta in sync to a cocktail shaker soundtrack and a display of red suit jackets. And there’s an energy that’ll make you want to start talking with your hands in pinched fingers, as if it’s something you’ve been doing your entire life. 

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Sammie’s review image

Familiar apps like cheese sticks are packed full of housemade mozzarella—a small touch that manages to turn even a humble little bar snack into a dish you’ll still be talking about on the way home. And a bit of chile crunch on top of a caesar salad feels like a twist that’s been passed down the Sammie’s family for years. The pasta menu is mostly made up of comforting classics like spaghetti with meatballs and rigatoni bolognese, and all of the noodles are made in house. Definitely plan on ordering a couple different pastas, with at least one of them featuring some red sauce. They also offer a few items from the grill—like a pork chop or a NY Strip—but you’re really missing the point if you build your meal around a steak here. 

Then there are the “Sammie’s Classics.” These are the menu items that get outlined in gold trim—something we also do when we want people to know we’re serious. Here you’ll find things like chicken parm, veal marsala, and some of the best lasagna in town. At $42, the chicken parm is probably one of the most expensive chicken breasts you’ll ever set your eyes on (it does come with a side of spaghetti), but the massive takeout box of leftovers you’ll be eating well into next week will hopefully soothe the burn, just a little. 

This isn’t really the type of place you’re going for a low-key, last minute dinner on a Tuesday night, or if you’re looking for a good value. This is where you go when you want a fun, high energy night out with one-too-many martinis and a credit card bill you’ll probably regret in the morning. 

Food Rundown

Mozzarella Sticks

We love mozzarella sticks, and we didn’t know that they could get better until we tried the ones at Sammie’s. Break one in half and you’ll be met with long strands of mozzarella that feels like they’ll never stop stretching until it somehow melts the second it hits your mouth. Dunk them in some classic marinara or creamy basil ranch. Or dunk them in both, live life by your own rules.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Sammie’s review image

Caesar Salad à la Tommy

We’re not sure who Tommy is, but if they’re the person responsible for adding a few dollops of chile crunch to the top of a caesar salad, they deserve a statue. Or, at the very least, a medal. This comes in a great shareable portion with long, whole leaves of romaine lettuce dressed in a creamy caesar dressing. This is your last chance to eat something crunchy before you move onto the pasta part of your life.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Sammie’s review image

Chicken Parmigiana

This is roughly the size of a large dinner plate, but probably a lot tastier. Six giant circles of mozzarella form a little grid of cheese that you’ll want to get as much of as possible. It also comes with a small side of spaghetti aglio e olio (olive oil, garlic, parsley, parm), in case you were able to take down the entire meal with room to spare. Plan on sharing this to make room for more pasta.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Sammie’s review image

Mafaldine

Mafaldine is one of our favorite noodle shapes, because it adds some great texture to long ribbons of pasta, while also creating nice little pockets to trap sauce in. The mushrooms and truffle bring a nice earthy element to the creamy sauce and some fresh herbs add some brightness. It’s not red sauce, but it’s worth ordering.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Sammie’s review image

Tiramisu

The tiramisu here is some of the best in town, and it’s a big enough slice to share. Save some room for a thick slice of espresso dusted dessert and pair it with an after-dinner beverage, like their espresso martini if you can handle a double-dose of coffee.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Sammie’s review image

Featured in

.
The Most Exciting Dinner Spots In Austin Right Now guide image
Guide
The Most Exciting Dinner Spots In Austin Right Now

A night out at one of these places‚ whether it’s for a catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night—feels overwhelmingly of the moment.

The Best Pasta In Austin guide image
Guide
The Best Pasta In Austin

Where to satisfy your pasta cravings.

Suggested Reading

.
The Best Date Night Restaurants In Austin guide image
Guide
The Best Date Night Restaurants In Austin

Our list of the best spots for a romantic night out.

Hestia review image
8.4
Review
Hestia

Hestia is a swanky restaurant downtown built around a 20-foot, live fire hearth.

Lutie's Garden Restaurant review image
8.6
Review
Lutie's Garden Restaurant

Lutie's is a beautiful restaurant with a garden-focused menu on the Commodore Perry Estate.