Editor’s Note: aRoma is closed as of November 2017. Another Italian restaurant named ManinPasta is expected to take its place.
As the outline of South Lamar continues to change and quickly rise upward, Austin welcomes a new kid to town, aRoma Italian Kitchen & Bar.
Located at 3403 S. Lamar, aRoma has cozied up as a neighbor to our beloved Broken Spoke, bringing with it a new chapter of local Italian cuisine that reaches the south end of Austin. The contemporary kitchen boasts rustic recipes complemented by sleek presentation and fresh, local flavors, plus from-scratch pasta, dough, mozzarella and more.
The space is full of light, which commences at the floor to ceiling windows at the storefront and floats freely around the dining room. From the outside in, passers-by are drawn by the friendly buzz of conversations and the new, fragrant whiffs carried through the neighborhood from the busy kitchen.
Owner Dave Whitney, formerly of Threadgill’s, has created a place for locals to feel at home and Austin visitors to experience a real slice of the local culinary scene. “We’ve been working night and day for months to get ready, and we’re really excited about opening our doors and sharing our unique take on Italian cuisine with the local, South Austin community,” Whitney said.
Tables are adorned with white linens and polished glassware, in true Italian bistro style. Be sure to take note of the beautifully curated furniture that is the stage for your meal throughout aRoma. Using reclaimed wood from the Gatesville Recreation Center basketball court near Waco, Mockingbird Domestics tables add comfort and novelty to the dining room.
This is a place you’ll want to take friends and pass plates around the table. Although aRoma is currently only serving dinner, I predict the newly introduced concept will be considered a great place for happy hour and lunch as early as June 2014.
The open-air kitchen at aRoma is a visceral playground for Executive Chef Jason Garcia, and diners alike. The shining beacon and focal point of the space is the Italian-made Marra Forni wood fired brick oven. This oven is recognized by the official governing body Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (yes, this is real) as a genuine delivery portal of traditional and acceptable Neapolitan pizza. What I’m saying here, folks…this is one hot and sexy pizza oven!
Pizzas in Austin are varied, delicious and it seems there is one to fit any taste, but Garcia’s team takes their pizza making to an even more serious level. The following things will make up your pizza if you should choose the adventure at aRoma:
- Tomatoes grown on the volcanic plains of the south side of Mount Vesuvius, called San Marzano tomatoes
- Housemade mozzarella, using milk from Texas farmed cows
- Dough made from wheat flour, natural Neapolitan yeast, salt and water, kneaded and formed by hand
- Finally – that previously mentioned, hot and sexy oven, kept at 900°F (I told you it was hot) will bake your pizza in only 60-90 seconds
Shake up your idea of pizza to truly enjoy aRoma’s spin on the simple, romantic and traditional flavors of Napoli. Pair that up with a selection from the extensive wine list or a hand-crafted cocktail.
Other parts of the menu at aRoma feature house-made pastas and from-scratch sauces, using locally sourced ingredients. Salumi & Formaggi boards, Bruschetta and other small plates are a great way to warm up your appetite before diving into the full menu. A selection of salads and many substantial protein entrees such as Cioppino, a rustic, brick-pressed chicken, or the Bistecca served atop black pepper polenta and topped with mushrooms and red wine braised leeks show off the versatility of this modern day Italian kitchen. A few standout dishes in my opinion are the house-made Pappardelle Bolognese and the unique take on Gnocchi with fennel, pine nuts and basil.
“I love food of all sorts, and have had the pleasure of working with many different cuisines in my career,” Chef Garcia said. “But Italian cuisine is a great passion of mine, and now I have the opportunity to express that at aRoma.”
One final tip for those of you who hung in till the end. aRoma has a large and fully-shaded outdoor patio where you can enjoy a chilled bottle of wine and the full dining menu.
Stop into aRoma from 5 PM–midnight for a shared bite, crafty cocktail or even just a couple scoops of gelato. In fact, I challenge you to make that sassy brick oven at aRoma just as picture worthy as the pits at Salt Lick. Get those phones out and start snapping pics to share with us on Facebook!
Have you stopped into aRoma yet?