Longtime Austin restaurateur and champion of live music Art Blondin has died. An employee discovered Blondin upon arriving for work at Blondin’s Art’s Ribs & BBQ in Florence, Texas, on Saturday morning. An autopsy Monday will determine the cause of Blondin’s death, and police say they do not expect foul play.
Maggiano’s Little Italy
10910 Domain Dr #100, Austin, 78759
- Pepper Grinder Rating: 0 (They had several impressive pepper grinders in a server cubbyhole, but neglected to offer any to us.)
- Bathroom Rating: 3
- WiFi note: There’s free WiFi…if you’re using the conference room and have a password. Otherwise the restaurant seems to be built within a Farady Cage, as my iPhone frequently was unable to connect to AT&T at all.
Maggiano’s offers up tasty, overpriced Italian food. In that sense it’s much like Brio, with the added hassles of being in the Domain, which makes it hard to get to. We also had to wait for a table, even though I had made reservations (though we did get there a little bit early).
The first disappointment after being seated was the free bread: uninspired baguette rounds (though at least they were served warm) with unspiced olive oil. Both Reale’s, with their delicious breadsticks, and Brio, with a more interesting bread assortment and spiced olive oil, do a better job in the bread department.
The crab cakes appetizers were good, but not $15 for two good.
Service was attentive, with numerous free drink refills without having to ask.
For my entree, the veal picatta was both nicely done and had pretty generous portions (which is only fair, considering the price). I thought the angel hair aglio olio was underspiced.
For dessert I had a perfectly caramelized creme brulee with fruit.
It was a very good meal. It also cost some $50, without any alcoholic beverages. That, dealing with the hassle of The Domain, and dealing with the hassle of the crowds (“Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”) make it hard to recommend.
If I’m hungry for great Italian food, Monday through Saturday I’m probably going to go to Reale’s if they’re not too packed. If it’s Sunday (when Reale’s is closed), I’d pick Brio over Maggiano’s.
I want to make note of this story, even though it has been covered elsewhere, for reasons I will get to in a moment:
Those restaurants are:
- Paggi House, which supposedly owes $10,741.09, and which closed in May.
- The Loop Restaurant and Bar, which supposedly owes $21,890.77, and which closed at some point last year.
- And SDC log “Die In a Fire” favorite, The Goodnight, which supposedly owes $14,717.71. “A manager referred questions to the restaurant’s owners, who didn’t respond to telephone and email messages seeking comment.” Wow. There’s a shock.
Any readers out there in the tax office who’d be willing to give me a “heads-up” when they start seizing property from The Goodnight? I want to be there when the taxman starts taking tables and chairs, so I can point and laugh.
Edited to add: Eater Austin now has a comment from someone claiming to be “The Goodnight Management”, and asserting that they have paid their tax bill “in full and on time”.
Really. Couldn’t this have been covered in one, possibly two, entries?
Edited to add: Nine!
Edited to add 7/14: I’m going to call this one nine and a half, since it is an Austin Eater item, but links to a KUT interview.
SLAB BBQ will be opening their first brick and mortar store where Texas Rib Kings used to be at Burnet & 183.
Food trailer SLAB BBQ will open its first brick-and-mortar location in mid-summer in North Austin.
Co-owner Mark Avalos said the permanent location will allow the business to grow its catering services. SLAB BBQ already operates a food trailer that frequents North Austin, and its new location will be in the former Texas Rib Kings spot at 9012 Research Blvd., Ste. C-4.
North Austin can always use more BBQ places…
Following on Dwight’s lament about a lack of German places in Austin, someone mentioned Das Cafe in Pflugerville, which we were going to try at this weekend’s SDC.
Alas, it was not to be. When I called to ask about their hours, they told me they were closing this week for good. (According to a post on Yelp, it’s because the owner had a baby, so I suppose it’s a reasonably happy ending for a restaurant.)
(The headline is slightly misleading, since I think they’re closing on Friday, but I couldn’t resist the headline…)
You may have heard of Damian Mandola. He and his nephew Johnny Carrabba have had cooking shows on PBS. The Mandola family are prominent restaurant operators, and the Carrabba’s chain was founded by Johnny and Damian. Damian also has a local chain, “Mandola’s Italian Market”, that I kind of like, and a higher-end Italian place in Driftwood closer to the Salt Lick, Trattoria Lisina.
Damian Mandola is also at the center of one of the more interesting local crime stories I’ve seen in a while.
The story starts on Thursday. Local law enforcement responded to a report of someone driving a golf cart erratically in the area of Trattoria Lisina. This led to Damian being taken into custody and charged with burglary; specifically, he is alleged to have broken into a building at the Dutchman Family Winery (which is next to Lisina but not owned by Damian) and stolen some wine. Other reports I’ve seen put the amount stolen at one or two bottles, which is odd; if he just wanted a couple of bottles of wine, surely Lisina would have that on hand?
So this is already odd enough. But I was talking about the story with my mother this morning, went to look up the press reports, and…
Damian Mandola was arrested again last night, after putting up bail on the burglary charge. This time, the charges are assault with a deadly weapon and “criminal mischief”.
There’s not a whole lot of detail so far about the sequence of events, and I haven’t seen any reporting except for brief stories in the Statesman and HouChron. It is worth repeating that these are just charges, and Mr. Mandola deserves the presumption of innocence. On the other hand, I doubt the Hays County Sheriff’s Office goes around picking up prominent business owners for no reason. And an ADW charge implies both that there was an assault, and the assault victim could identify their attacker (or that there was other physical evidence tying someone to the attack).
This is a darn shame. I really do like Damian’s ventures other than Carrabba’s. (I also like Carrabba’s, but I don’t think he or anyone else from the family is involved in managing it any longer.)
It is sad and odd and I hope it gets straightened out for the better.
According to a Yelp reviewer and Google Maps, the north location of Verona Ristorante Italiano closed late last year. (The south location still seems to be open, and they’ve done a half-assed scrubbing of mentions of the north location off their website.)
A pity, since they were a pretty good Italian place.
That strip between Middle Fiskville and I-35 really seems to be a cursed as far as restaurants surviving there goes, and I don’t think anyplace except the Korean/Sushi joint that keeps changing names has made a go of it since the Bookstop closed.