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.

Silver Grill Cafe offers good food, friendly space and a playground!

Silver Grill Cafe Austin TexasThe other day we decided to attend a board games Meetup in North Austin at the Silver Grill Cafe.  Our goal was a geek-happy afternoon playing games like Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. But what we found in the process was a great little cafe with low prices and delicious home-style food (including my new favorite, Migas!)

We got to chat with one of the restaurant’s two owners, Rehan Awan, while we ate.  He told us the restaurant had been open for about 2 years, and that he had been involved in the restaurant industry for years. Their goal at Silver Grill, he said, was to make sure guests got food they loved in a place they were happy to be.  He succeeded on both counts with us.  From the large servings of fresh food to the all-you-want salsa and jalapeno bar (Yeah!  A place that doesn’t charge extra for jalapenos!), we feasted until game time.

Mr. Awan said that several Meetup groups have chosen his place for their events.  The large open floor plan and affordable food certainly made it seem like a natural to me.  We had about 20-30 game players eating and playing board games in the restaurant, and it never felt crowded or noisy.

The restaurant also has a patio for al fresco dining and a large play set for younger diners to run off energy until the food is ready.