People say Austin doesn’t have a diverse food scene, but I say you just have to know where to look. While the capital city may not have a version of New York’s Little Italy, pasta, pizza, and authentic Italian desserts can still be found scattered throughout our streets. So, when you find yourself craving the warm, comforting goodness that only a certain boot-shaped country can provide, give these five Italian food trucks in Austin a try.
1/ Regal Ravioli
Washington D.C. transplant, Zach Adams, came to Austin when he couldn’t find the work he was looking for. “When I came here, I realized food trucks were a thing,” he said. So, in 2011, Adams decided to start his own thing. I couldn’t be happier that he did.
With his food truck, Regal Ravioli, this fourth generation Italian has elevated common cheese ravioli to royal status by stuffing homemade pasta pockets with ricotta, mozzarella, and asiago cheeses. Fresh lemon zest, basil, and marinara sauce perfectly complement the savory cheeses to finish off the Ravioli King dish.
Another crown jewel on the menu is the steak ravioli. Adams grills up ribeye steak, grinds it, and then mixes it with sautéed onions. The mixture is then stuffed into pasta and pressed, to create a soft pillowy dumpling. Afterwards, the dish receives a crown of trailer-made cheese wiz, marinara, and banana peppers. It’s Adams’ creative take on a Philly cheese steak sandwich.
The ravioli isn’t the only regal item on the menu. The truck’s lesser known Jabroni sandwich, made with herb-roasted pork, sauteed broccolini, and provolone cheese, is pretty princely, if you ask me.
1502 S. 1st St. – Website
Sitting outside the Vortex theatre and Butterfly Bar lies an Italian oasis. I stumbled across it late one night and was eager to drink from its starchy waters. That evening my thirst was quenched by pasta so good that Italian grandmothers everywhere would approve. This east side food truck has been haunting my taste buds ever since.
Nic and Matt Patrizi are reviving their family’s 1940’s restaurant through a concept called Patrizi’s. The original was a brick and mortar in Beaumont, Texas for 50 years. Today, the Patrizi brothers are paying homage to the old family restaurant by cranking out dishes that will feed more than your belly.
Perhaps that’s why I haven’t been able to shake Karah’s Diavolo, a dish that divinely marries the simple flavors of lemon, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and chilis to create an extraordinary meal that feeds my soul.
Other noteworthy items on the menu at this Italian sanctuary include the numerous additions for any pasta ordered. Try the pancetta that’s been cured for seven days then smoked on live oak, or the Italian sausage made of pork, onions, fennel, and red pepper. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the coddled egg or slowly poached cloves in olive oil.
2307 Manor Road – Website
3/ Hot Mess Italian
I seem to stumble upon a lot of food trucks at night, and Hot Mess Italian is another prime example of my late night dining adventures. I found the Italian sister of the original Hot Mess outside Infinite Monkey Theorem a while back. Although I wasn’t ravenously hungry, I was still in the mood for the soothing comfort that can only be obtained from eating carbs adorned with cheese and sauce.
I ordered the eggplant parmesan. With the first bite, I knew I had made a solid life choice. Expertly constructed layers of noodles, cheese, and marinara delighted my palate. I all but licked the paper boat my entree was served in.
Other items on the menu at this Italian eatery on wheels include classics like spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmesan, and even tiramisu.
121 Pickle Road – Website
4/ Mama Mal’s
Tucked away at The Saxon Pub sits Mama Mal’s, where the owner, Malavita Barese, cooks up homemade Italian cuisine with love. Fresh herbs and produce from Malavita’s organic garden add to family recipes that have been passed down through decades.
Mama Mal’s had me at cannoli. During my visit, I walked away with two (gasp), and an order of spinach lasagna, referred to as The Clarke. As I waited for my entree, I had my dessert. A buttery shell stuffed with sweet Italian cream was the perfect appetizer before I dove into the multiple layers of tasty pasta, spinach, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese.
Other menu items include The Joseph Mario, a traditional style meatball sub topped with Mal’s sauce, and The Salvatore, which features spicy or mild sausage with onions, and both green and red bell peppers.
1320 S. Lamar Blvd. – Website
5/ Via 313
Via 313 is a little slice of Detroit in our capital city. In 2011, the Hunt brothers opened up their first trailer on East Sixth Street. Since that fateful day, they have been hypnotizing Austinites with their unconventional square pizza.
I took a walk on the east side a few years back and discovered this trailer in front of Violet Crown Social Club. When my herbivore pie arrived in all it’s four-sided glory, it was like finding money in a jacket pocket. I suddenly realized what I had been missing.
I devoured the crispy goodness piled high with mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and black olives in record time. In fact, I didn’t even have time to question the truck’s sauce-on-top ideology. Meat eaters rave about Via 313’s Detroiter, which features both smoked pepperoni and natural casing pepperoni. And everyone agrees on the cheese bread appetizer.
1111 East 6th St. and 61 Rainey St. – Website
Italian food this good should be savored and shared. Enjoy!
@dollarsaenz wants to know:
What are your favorite Italian food trucks in Austin?