Patrizi’s – Authentic Italian on the Go
The thought of homemade, hand-pulled pasta made and sold from a truck may sound improbable, but Austin’s food scene never ceases to amaze. This is the case with Patrizi’s, who continue the tradition of sharing authentic Italian food with its community since opening in Beaumont circa 1948. The kitchen and town may have changed, but the mission remains the same 7 days a week from 5 PM – 9 : 30. Austin, if you haven’t checked this gem out, you won’t be disappointed!
Symbiosis in Outdoor Dining
Planted in a lot off Manor Road in the shadow of the Vortex Theatre, Patrizi’s raises the bar for outdoor seating. Guests can enjoy a spacious side patio and generous placement of covered stage front seating. The lot hosts live music and events, entertaining hungry guests as they wait for their food. Particularly of note is the existence of two trucks, one dedicated entirely to the pulling of fresh pasta daily. This lends the entire operation a much more settled and cozier atmosphere, blurring the lines between food truck and full-fledged outdoor restaurant.
The setup of the “outdoor restaurant” approach places Patrizi’s at the center of its own little multi-business ecosystem. Hungry guests exiting the Vortex Theatre can enjoy live events and a romantic, authentic Italian dinner at the nearby Patrizi’s. Visitors to the truck can enjoy a theatre production after eating a pile of pasta. Both the restaurant and theatre share a common symbiotic relationship with the Butterfly Bar, which provides full drink service for the establishments. An intuitive QR code system allows for tableside ordering and delivery of all your beverages.
Walking up to the gate, any concerns I may have had regarding COVID precautions were eased. A hostess immediately greeted me, checking temperatures and pointing to socially distanced seating. Framed local artwork lavishly decorated the truck itself. New pictures are being uploaded to the site and rotated throughout the year. The stage was also occupied by a weekly trivia event, and many guests were enjoying the all-night “Texas Two-Step” special: A Lone Star beer and shot of Whiskey for $5. A sign written in chalk showcased drink specials and let me know that Happy Hour was from 5 – 7.
An employee saw me standing in line and immediately came to answer any questions I had about the menu. They informed me of the second truck on-site, and that Patrizi’s sources their vegetables and dairy from local farms. The substitution of certain ingredients in dishes in conjunction with Texas seasonality was interesting to me (the use of arugula/basil mix vs. straight basil to make pesto, and the use of Texas pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts), providing a unique twist to more classic Italian dishes. You can choose to have any pasta dish on the menu served by itself or in a smaller portion with a side salad. After ordering, my waiter showed me to a sanitized table at the large, covered patio and given a number.
Authentic Texas-Italian Food
The menu has retained many of the original restaurant’s items, but seasonal dishes come and go throughout the year. Pasta entrees are available year-round, from more traditional Italian options like the Cacio e Pepe or Pomodoro to Patrizi’s own Red Sauce or The Great Leopold. You can add toppings such as giant homemade meatballs or house-cured pancetta to any pasta for a fee. Vegetarians will be happy to know that a majority of the dishes and sauces contain no meat. Sadly, gluten-free and vegan options are lacking beyond salads and some appetizers due to the use of egg and dairy in pasta.
Patrizi’s wait time and service structure was, if anything. more reminiscent of a traditional restaurant. I had my food brought out to me in courses, beginning with the House Salad that came with my meal. Now, a house salad is a humble thing, and its ingredients are often be simple. However, the execution is very important and telling of a restaurant’s ability to make any salad on its menu. It’s often included on the menu as an afterthought, and I don’t choose salad much ordering out for this reason. That being said, I think this might have been the best salad I have ever eaten.
Delicious Pasta and Other Forms of Bread
The next dish brought out to me was the mark of a true Italian restaurant: garlic bread. I am glad to say that Patrizi’s did not disappoint me. A plate of grilled ciabatta with cloves of roasted garlic and local grana cheese spread makes for a great appetizer. The mango-infused margarita courtesy of The Butterfly Bar also made for a refreshing drink to go with my food.
The final dish to come out was the centerpiece of the meal, the Carbonara Alexandra. Their house-cured-and-smoked pancetta and grana cheese gratuitously tops the carbonara. This dish would have easily been the highlight of my meal if I weren’t already so full. It’s been awhile since I’ve had homemade pasta, and the dish certainly didn’t disappoint. Compared to the dried sticks I’m used to cooking with, the difference in texture and overall freshness was immediately noticeable.
If the thought of authentic Italian food with a Texas twist in an outdoor environment sounds appealing, Patrizi’s may be among the best of what Austin has to offer. The close-knit relationship between this trio of businesses has allowed for the growth of an admittedly pretty cool spot for a dinner with friends.