Rarely do I find a restaurant that can literally transport me to another time or place. Last night we left the hotel expecting to have a nice Italian meal and, remarkably, we ended up in Italy.
To give credit where credit is due, our niece Laura told us about Vespaio, claiming it as her favorite restaurant in Austin. I had read about it in the past but had never had the pleasure of having a meal there.
The restaurant is located along a fun, funky and trendy section of South Congress Avenue, otherwise known as SoCo. When the cab driver dropped us off there was a young, James Dean looking guy standing in front of the restaurant playing the saxophone for tips. He was very pretty in a bad-boy-needs-a-bath kind of way; however, his lack of hygene was completely over-shadowed by the music he made. Imagine our pleasure when the hostess sat us right inside the window from where he was playing and we were able to enjoy his beautiful music throughout dinner.
We started with a little antipasti and a gorgeous Italian red wine. We enjoyed a beautiful peach stuffed with goat cheese, an assortment of olives and slices of salami with an olive tapenade. These were served with warm, fresh-baked bread.
For his entree Mark chose the Seafood Cioppino which is basically a seafood stew. It was full of clams, shrimp, tuna, squid and fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce and served with the most gorgeous toasted baguette. I had a taste of the broth, clam and bread together and it was sinfully delicious. In fact, I could have made a meal out of just the broth and the bread.
My entree was the Vitello Saltimbocca. It is described on the menu as sautéed veal scallopine layered with sage & thinly sliced Parma prosciutto with wilted baby spinach finished with a veal-lemon butter. This dish is to me what Italy is all about. It was simple, beautiful and rustic.
We shared a side order of homemade linguine tossed with shallots, garlic, fresh basil & extra virgin olive oil. Comfort food at its best!
After dinner we went in to the bar for a drink. I had already expressed to Mark that dinner at Vespaio had transported me to what must be Italy. Everything was so LOVELY and SIMPLE and ROMANTIC and COZY. As I understand, it is an Italian tradition to drink Limoncello as an after dinner "digestivo" and as it just so happens I love tradition and Limoncello so I proposed a toast to my favorite dinner companion, Italy and the lovely Vespaio. Acclamazioni!
4 hours ago