Paisano’s brings homemade Italian to Austin! Finally!

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Don’t get me wrong. ..I love Mexican food and Indian food and all the wonderful vegetarian choices in Austin.  But without really good, homecooked style Italian,  there was just something missing.

But a random choice to stop at Paisano’s in Northwest Austin the other night changed that. Here, tucked in among chain fast food places, was a real, honest-to-goodness family run Italian restaurant.  The smell alone had be hooked….but then I took my first bite.

The creamy, rich pomodoro sauce and the rich ricotta filled tortellini tasted like someone’s Italian grandmother had just finished cooking.  The texture and seasoning were perfect! My husband’s lasagna was tall and stuffed with cheeses, then dressed in an all-beef meat sauce. We were both thrilled to find this kind of delicious here in Austin! Sorry Olive Garden…you have been replaced!

No, this is not a classic Italian restaurant inside. The lighting is bright, and there wasn’t any Italian music playing. Paisano’s isn’t a fancy, date-night destination. But the lack of ambience is a small price to pay for the flavors. As far as we’re concerned, that’s a trade we’re happy to make!

Our next visit will probably be a chance to try their pizzas. ..if they’re as good as the pasta,  expect an update to this post!

(PS..sorry for the bad photo. ..my phone wasn’t cooperating,  so I’ll have to go back and take some better shots soon! )

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There IS great Italian food in Austin!

Reale Pizza and Cafe on www.Ais4Austin.comWhen we moved to Austin, we were told there were a few things we would have to give up. One was the beach, and the other was really good Italian food.

While the beach is still no where to be found, we have proven the other half of that pronouncement wrong. It started with a gift card to Reale’s Pizza and Cafe I received for doing some online work for the Austin Family History Center.

We looked up the address, and discovered that it was only a few miles away, so we headed out for lunch.  The plan was to get a pizza.  But when we walked in and the smell of real Italian cooking reached us, that plan was scraped. In a place that smelled this good, pizza would have to wait for another day.

And oh what a great choice that was!  From the spinach lasagna stuffed with a delicious blend of cheeses and fresh spinach, all topped with a lick-your-plate-its-so-good marinara sauce, to Lance’s chicken cacciatore rich with peppers, mushrooms and onions, it was hands down one of the best Italian meals I’ve ever had. And that’s saying a lot for someone who has eaten in great Italian places in New York, Boston, Baltimore and Miami.

Owner Bob Reale was on hand, and stopped by to chat with us while we ate, making us feel more like guests in an Italian home than customers in a restaurant.

No, this place is not fancy. The location is in a strip mall just off 183 in northwest Austin. But fancy won’t get me to eat every bite of a lasagna (I usually eat far less!).  And fancy won’t have the three of diving into our dessert canolli, and declaring it “just right”.

In just one lunch, Reale’s quickly went from a way to use a gift card, to a place we plan to return to again and again. And maybe next time, we’ll even try the pizza.