Thursday, 30 April 2009
This restaurant is well located for sure; SOCO is a great relaxing area besides the high traffic which generates a constant rumbling noise. A lot of funky restaurants opened in this area and some of them provide quite decent food.
Enoteca Vespaio (not to be mixed up with Vespaio next door which is, I believe, owned by the same tenant) tries and believes to be a true Italian type of restaurant, some critics even wrote “Italian from decoration to food”. Well, let me tell you this, I lived next to Italy for 30 years, went to Italy almost once a year for 30 years and spent more time with Italian friends (and their cooking moms) than with any other people and the food I was served yesterday at Enoteca had not much to do with Italian food! It was good but not Italian.
For those critics who believe that the atmosphere is truly Italian, please fly to Italy and visit restaurants, the atmosphere in most Italian food sanctuaries is at the opposite of what can be experienced at Vespaio. They don’t decorate their restaurants, often offer a unique and set menu, the operation is not run as a business but as a family type of cuisine with kids running around, mother cooking, fathers serving limoncello and other alcohols and finally daughters serving. Vespaio doesn’t offer this kind of atmosphere.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked Vespaio and its food but no, it’s not Italian its Italian-American which means adapted to the culture and expectations of Americans. This is normal and follows the same marketing pattern as in other countries.
Let’s concentrate on the food; as a starter I got the homemade pork rilettes, I was stunned, I love rillettes and didn’t expect to be positively surprised which I was but frankly, do you believe that rillettes are Italian? NO WAY SIR, they are French! My wife ordered a cabbage salad which I want to forget and will not describe in these lines in order to retain some of my few readers.
As a main I ordered “Spaghettoni con polpette”, ok, that sounds Italian. The “polpette” are sage veal balls which are cooked in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. The “polpette” and accompanying sauce were “picante”, the tastes well balanced and the sage appeared to be fresh, good but what on earth did they do to the spahettoni? They tasted like Chinese noodles. Homemade egg pasta exists in Italy but they don’t taste Chinese.
A little pricy and the staff was sort of slow and stuck up. They follow “strict business rules” and didn’t let my pregnant wife sit at a table as I wasn’t in the building yet (parking the car)! I first felt like leaving right away but my wife was too hungry (by the way, don’t try the soup it’s just bland).
1610 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704