Il Brutto: A Classic Night Out
Il Brutto sits on the corner of Comal and E Sixth, rounding out the trendy neighborhood and offering some of the best authentic Italian in Austin. Diners are afforded a choice between breezy wood-paneled seating outside or cushy, relaxed tables inside. Upbeat music surreptitiously keeps the mood up throughout the night as each course of finessed Italian fare graces the table.
Hands down the best part of the night was trying my new favorite drink, the Questo Espresso Martini. With all the punch of espresso and sophisticated sass of quality European liquor, the Questo is the perfect way to prep for an evening of energy and excitement at Il Brutto. Despite the strength of flavor brought by the coffee and two liquors, the martini is smooth and decadent from the first sip to the last.
For an equally bracing but less dramatic drink, the Uccello Rosa is a prime choice. Slightly herbal, with sneakily tropical notes of pineapple, the accessible and friendly Uccello Rosa is sure to please even pickier drinkers.
Keeping the trend of catering to all tastes, the Trio Tasting features three distinct spreads alongside Il Brutto’s pizza bread: a classic basil pesto, a strong blend of four cheeses, and a traditional ‘nduja pork mousse. The pizza bread is perfectly chewy and fluffy, and a delight to eat by itself. The basil pesto and ‘nduja are creamy and bold, with the ‘nduja providing some welcomed spice. Despite its apparent thinness, the four cheese dip clings to the bread well and has a beautifully complex, robust flavor that leaves you dipping over and over until it’s gone.
The Cacio e Pepe, or cheese and pepper pasta, is strikingly simple yet remarkably delicious due to Il Brutto’s precise execution. The pasta is exactly al dente and slightly thicker than spaghetti noodles. The sauce has the same complexity as the four-cheese dip from the Trio Tasting. The pepper adds that little kick needed to make it unforgettable.
The previous dishes are simple fare executed perfectly. The Lamb Scottadito, in contrast, is an intricate marriage of texture and flavor. Succulent lamb rib chops draw the eye as they lay in a bed of tangy yogurt, fresh dill, juicy fried artichokes, and excitingly crispy kataifi noodles.
This entree truly shines when all elements are eaten together. The yogurt and artichokes temper the natural gaminess of the lamb, while the dill brightens the bite and the kataifi allows for a satisfying crunch.
Of course, the most important part of a meal is dessert. At Il Brutto, it did not disappoint. They make their gelato in-house, making the final product quite impressive. The difficult-to-achieve creaminess is a brilliant testament to the skill of the chefs and shouldn’t be missed.
And the tiramisu? Now that is on another level. Like the Questo, Il Brutto’s tiramisu shot up into my favorites list at first contact. I may have ascended to a higher plane of existence. In short, the tiramisu is divine. It’s not a cake favored like tiramisu, which is something a lot of restaurants do to save themselves trouble. This is pure tiramisu. It’s pillowy soft, airy, and melt-in-the mouth, yet the coffee grounds it just long enough to grant you the best experience of your life. Chocolate cinnamon streusel gently dusts the top of the dessert for an innovative touch that compliments instead of overwhelms the overall taste.