A really good bowl of pasta is one of the most comforting things you can experience - stronger than the combined effects of a weighted blanket, a warm cup of cocoa, and the latest season of The Great British Baking Show. That bowl of microwaved spaghetti with a dollop of cold ragu? A little bit less comforting. Fortunately, Austin has some really great options. So if you’re not in the mood for another bowl of buttered noodles, here are a few of our favorites spots right now.
For many, Italian food is associated with white tablecloths, candles, and maybe a dimly-lit dining room. Artipasta has none of that. They’re located in a tree-shaded food truck park in South Austin, operating out of a trailer. But none of that has stopped them from making some of the best pasta in Austin right now. All of the pastas and sauces here are house-made, and there’s a level of attention to detail here that’s rare at any restaurant, let alone a trailer. Try the tagliatelle with house meat sauce or the basil pesto with literally any noodle.
Over on the East Side, Il Brutto’s menu of classic Italian fare encompasses just about everything from burrata antipasti and wood-fired pizzas, to semifreddo desserts and handmade pastas - the last of which has completely won us over. The cacio e pepe - with just three key ingredients - excels in its execution. Most notably, the combination of black and pink peppercorns added an almost-spicy element and a distinct flavor that felt original, while still staying squarely in the “cacio e pepe” lane. They also happen to have an excellent amari list - you can even try a flight if you’re new to the spirit - with a wide range of styles, from “gateways” to “deviations.”
Over the years, Patrizi’s has become something of an institution in East Austin, with their handmade pastas sometimes drawing long lines reminiscent of Franklin Barbecue. And it’s worth it, because you’ll end up with some of the best pasta in Austin. Up until recently, they had a strict “no takeout” policy, though in recent months they’ve adapted to the current climate, which means you can now eat your weight in carbonara from the comfort of your living room. Try out The Great Leopold - made with basil and arugula pesto, grana padano, crushed red chili, and lemon zest - or keep it classic with their family recipe red sauce. There’s really no wrong answer here.
Le Cowboy is a semi-permanent pop-up in the former Eastside Cafe space on Manor serving some of the best pasta in town. Helmed by a former chef of Olamaie and Carpenters Hall, Le Cowboy’s menu features a few simple but thoughtful pastas, like a cavatelli with broccoli rabe, ricotta tortelloni with walnut pesto, and orecchiette with a sausage ragu. The pasta here is hearty and clearly handmade - intentionally full of crags and imperfections - making it optimal for takeout, but also incredibly delicious.
Dining on Olive & June’s patio is probably the closest thing we’ve experienced to eating in an upscale treehouse, with three stories of spacious patio wrapping around a giant 200-year-old oak tree near 35th and MoPac. Recently we’ve been enjoying their takeout, but eating pasta surrounded by your large collection of houseplants doesn’t really have the same effect. Whether you decide to eat it there (the dining room and patio are currently open for seating), or in your own backyard, we can guarantee you’re going to get some incredibly tasty, handmade pasta. Try the linguine alla vongole if you like clams, or get the bucatini if you just like good pasta.
The East Side restaurant Juniper leans Northern Italian with a seasonal Texas spin, and it’s one of our favorite places to get handmade pasta. The pastas sometimes change up, but the menu has several mainstays, including the pappardelle with oxtail ragu and the rigatoni with bolognese. The lasagna is arguably the best in town - there’s also a vegetarian version that comes with eggplant and tuscan kale. They’ve also got a great bar program, as well as one of the largest selections of amari in Austin.
Cannone Cucina Italiano
Cannone first opened their food truck in 2016 and have since expanded with a popular gelato trailer, as well as a bicycle-powered gelato cart that you can often find somewhere near Zilker Park on weekends. But we’re not here to talk about frozen treats. Cannone Cucina offers a limited menu of focaccia sandwiches, pizzas, and handmade pastas. Here you’ll find your classics - like spaghetti with meatballs or pasta carbonara - as well as rich flavors like tortellini with spinach and gorgonzola sauce.