Austin is many things, but a hotbed of Italian culture it is not. That's been changing recently, as more and more eateries turn their focus to true Italian cuisine—below are six real-deal restos to visit now.
Andiamo, translated to "Let's go," in Italian, has perhaps the highest probability of you actually being able to practice your Italian with the staff, which should say something about the authenticity of the straightforward but exquistely executed Italian dishes. Take for example their herbed cheese bread to start, and the handmade pastas for the main—just be sure to save room for dessert, as their zabaglione is the stuff of dreams. 2521 Rutland Dr., 512-719-3377
This cozy downtown bistro has a classic old-world Italian feel. Raved-about dishes include the rotating homemade ravioli and the fan-favorite spaghetti alla carbonara with ample pancetta and lemons, topped off with a farm-fresh egg. 314 Congress Ave., 512-479-8131
South Congress’ Italian standby, Vespaio, which means "Wasps' nest," has been serving handmade and locally sourced dishes since 1998. Don't skimp on the silky waygu carpaccio with crispy capers and parmigiano reggiano, or the earthy tagliatelle with mushrooms and salty speck, a lightly smoked pork that's common in Italy. 1610 South Congress Ave., 512-441-6100
You’ll fall in love with Olive & June as soon as you see its fresh, modern interior and shaded outdoor patio. The meal starts with sumptuous, salty focaccia served with whipped ricotta, and the piccoli piatti are always inventive and delicious. The menu features Italian classics like bucatini amatriciana, as well as Italian dishes with a slight twist. Try the rigatoni with ragu, pine nuts, ricotta, and a hint of cherries. 3411 Glenview Ave., 512-467-9898
Nonna probably wouldn't make sweet potato gnocchi with venison cherry bolognese topped with pumpkin seed pesto. But can you blame us for wanting to include this fabulous SoCo ristorante? For those who subscribe to the traditional outlook, this is the place to go for lasagna. 1321 S. Congress Ave., 512-916-1315
This hidden downtown gem serves up homemade, authentic Italian fare. One of their standout pastas is the oddly named strozzapreti (priest-strangler), a chewy curled pasta only found on authentic Italian menus that's served with mushrooms and sausage. If your tastes tend more toward the traditional, the pillow-soft gnocchi sorrentina with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella remains a favorite. 908 Congress Ave., 512-476-3131