A table for 2 at this authentic Italian ristorante is the stuff of fairy tales. We’re thinking Valentine’s and beyond at Vespaio — one of the highest rated pasta places in all of Austin, driven wholly by handmade and locally-sourced ingredients.
Early demolition on this modest storefront just south of downtown (right off S. Congress) revealed a walled-in working beehive, and thus the origin of Vespaio was born. In Italian, the name translates to “Wasps’ Nest,” but can also mean buzzing. It’s not hard to see why. On the Thursday evening that Goodtaste dropped in for a late dinner, Vespaio was a swarm of activity!
Upon arrival, we were promptly seated and selections made from the seasonal cocktail menu. Below are the Valentina and the Vespa respectively [L to R]. The Valentina is made with Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka, fresh lemon and prosecco. The Vespa, a tantalizing concoction of Hornitos Reposado, rosé, jalapeño, honey and fresh lemon as well.
For our entrees, an off-the-menu Shrimp Risotto from the Chef [top] and the impressive “Grigliata Mista Di Carne” or “Meat Mixed Grill,” featuring a smorgasbord of local delicacies: oak fire grilled duck sausage, stuffed local rabbit saddle, prosciutto wrapped Berkshire pork tenderloin, veal jus, gremolata, and parmigiano reggiano roasted tomato.
It’s a sensational plate for sampling, and another nice thing: Vespaio does all of their own butchering and use every part of the animal.
Soft lighting, an open kitchen, exceptional service and a rather extensive wine list all help to accentuate Vespaio’s Old World charm. The restaurant accepts reservations Sunday through Thursday, from 5:30 until 6:30, after which guests are seated on a first-come, first-served basis. If there’s a wait, find a seat in the bar, where high bar tables are usually available. This is date country alright, so bring your special someone and indulge already!