Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review: Bambino – Food

Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review: Bambino - Food

Photography by Judy Horton

I’m not going to get into the debate about whether Austin really needs another pizzeria at this point. We all have our favourites, which we’ve been frequenting for decades now. The most interesting question for me is: What does Bambino, the new all-day casual pizzeria from L’Oca d’Oro owners Adam Orman and Fiore Tedesco, add to the conversation?

On our first visit to Bambino, we stayed focused on the Neapolitan-style pizza, opting to get one per person. I chose the daily special, the chicken parm pizza, topped with fried chicken breast pieces and an assortment of white cheeses, while my husband chose the Uncle Frankie’s pizza, topped with fennel sausage, bell peppers, broccoli, some cayenne pepper, and Parmesan cheese. These two pizzas were a study in contrast, with the chicken Parm being flavor-heavy and heavy with Uncle Frankie’s light touch. On a hot spring day, we definitely preferred Uncle Frankie’s vegetarian lightness, where finely chopped vegetables danced with the little sausage bits. Although I really liked the chicken parm, I think it would be a perfect post-summer pie. The sourdough crust, made with flour from Barton Springs Mill, wasn’t quite as tangy as the Bufalina crust, for example, on our first visit, but it certainly had more flavor when we tried the margherita pie on our next visit.

I very much enjoyed the frozen blood orange negroni, which was a pleasant surprise, as I don’t usually enjoy negronis. But I enjoy frozen cocktails, especially when the temperatures are extreme; I think the process of freezing the drink reduces the bitterness of the Campari. My wife gave the house margarita high marks as well, noting its wine and traditional margarita flavour.

Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review: Bambino - Food

Chef Fiore Tedesco (Photo by Judy Horton)

I ordered a slice of peanut butter pie to take home in a gesture toward moderation, but I opened that puppy the minute I got to the kitchen. It was, simply put, exceptional. The graham cracker crust, peanut butter mousse, and chocolate ganache reference similar snow pies from church picnics past in the best ways.

When we returned, I insisted that we expand our scope to include other parts of the menu. This time, we ordered the mozzarella sticks, the Juval Greens salad, and the margherita pizza. I chose the Amalfi Witch for my drink (the combination of Amaro, vodka, and orange soda was so refreshing and delicious that it disappeared very quickly), and my husband chose the frozen Margarita d’Oro (more on that in a minute).

The mozzarella sticks were densely breaded and uniform in size and shape, sparking some debate as to whether they were made in-house. A moot point, honestly, because it was so delicious, the salty cheese going so well with the sturdy bread. I ordered both of the dipping sauces available – marinara and cacio e pepe ranch. The first was smoky and delicious. I didn’t care for the latter, because it lacked the savory flavor of the ranch dressing as well as the umami of the cheesy dip.

There is much to recommend about Bambino, including the owners’ dedication to fair wages and working conditions, sourcing from local farms and suppliers with similar values, and implementing sustainable practices and materials.

The Govalle Greens Salad, which is mostly bitter greens, was not a winner for me. The home-made sauce wasn’t flavorful or acidic enough to cut through the tough frisee and radicchio. I can’t recommend this salad, nor can I recommend the frozen margarita, which had an earthy flavor from the turmeric that was off-putting. My husband, who never sends things when we dine out, ordered something more to his taste (the margarita rocks he enjoyed on our first visit).

The service at Bambino is relaxed and friendly. You place your order at the counter and get your table number. From there, the floor staff brings you plates and cutlery, serves drinks and food, encourages you to try the house-made chili oil (try a drizzle of it on your pizza! It’s amazing!), takes orders for additional drinks and dessert, and to-go items. I would encourage diners to bring their situational awareness with them to Bambino, as the space can get very crowded when it’s crowded, and I’ve seen many near misses between floor staff carrying drinks and hot food and oblivious guests not watching where they’re going.

Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review: Bambino - Food

Photography by Chase Daniel / Architecture & Interiors by Chioko Design

The Bambino’s interior was designed by Chioco Design and evokes ’80s design motifs, from the wood-paneled walls to the curved bar to the metal window coverings made to look like the rattan cane furniture that Gen Xers grew up sticking their fingers into. The spacious patio is perfect for large parties or for those who want to watch The Big Game (any game) on the big screen TV.

I feel like I should have a macro at this point where a single press of the switch delivers my usual warning about near-damaging noise levels. The exposed concrete beams in the ceiling provide no disorienting sound, and the overall industrial environment is fertile ground for cacophony. It’s best to sit on the large patio if you want to be heard or if you’re sensitive to a lot of noise. People with nut allergies should be aware that Bambino’s menu is full of almonds and pistachios. While cashiers will inquire about any allergies before taking orders, diners should be aware that cross-contamination is always a possibility, so eat with caution. I’m allergic to pistachios and avoided dishes containing them without a problem, but we chose to leave our nut-allergic teenager at home due to a previous cross-contamination issue when eating out at L’Oca d’Oro.

There is much to recommend about Bambino, including the owners’ dedication to fair wages and working conditions, sourcing from local farms and suppliers with similar values, and implementing sustainable practices and materials. Do I think the menu could be a little more accessible in terms of what we expect from a pizzeria (the Osetra Caviar Special pizza, at $72, is a bit over priced)? Yes, but I wouldn’t blame the chef for his creative expression.

In short, Bambino’s is the right pizza place at the right time for its specific location. It reflects the changing composition of Austin on the historically underserved East Side, as well as the effort on behalf of Orman and Tedesco to demonstrate a culinary spirit and progressive values ​​through a meal that was once considered peasant food. And judging by the crowds, from people just back from climbing practice to partying groups and families, the neighborhood likes what it sees.


979 Springdale St. 153


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