Austin >Food & Dining > Vespaio
1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX | Directions 7870430.247389 -97.750788
Tuesday To Friday From 05:30 PM To 10:30 PM Saturday From 05:00 PM To 10:30 PM Sunday To Monday From 05:30 PM To 10:00 PM
Before every other word out of your mouth was "local," Vespaio was doing the grow-its-own-vegetables thing, and way before local cuisine had caught up to South Congress, no less. Austin may be weird, but this is Italian food that proudly resists change: You'll find all the classics here, like Lasagna Bolognese and Pizza Margherita, but they're not just any ol' Italian standby -- they are Platonic ideals of the form.
All hype, not substance – Well, the food was not bad, but not good either. The place is loud, uncomfortable, and populated by a bunch of loud young Westlake rowdies who had to shout at the top of their lungs while their women screamed in approval about how much they made and how cool their cars were and where they vacationed.
Bad enough to make me not return yet.
For the price, I expected better.
Vespaio is a tummy ache waiting to happen – Where to begin? I had heard horror stories about the management and the French owner of this place. My friend talked me into going here because she had always wanted to try it. I gave in.... We arrived around 8:30, the place was hot as hell, I'm thinking they do not invest any of the many dollars they must make back into keeping up the comfort level here.. not a good dining temperature. We sat at the bar where a very colorful character, Tom greeted us. He was very entertaining but seemed a little buzzed himself already. He makes a fine martini for sure. We ordered the tuna tartare which was underwhelming to say the least... there is enough bread here to choke an army with a thimble's worth of tuna to go with it. If this was Uchi grade tuna then I could possible almost see the value but the fish was starting to oxidize and was not pleasant. We ordered the veal saltimbocca and the tagliatelle for entrees.. Blah! The veal was so overdone and tough (hard to accomplish with veal) and slathered in butter that it was inedible.. the pasta, while homemade, was disgustingly overly creamy with no emphasis on subtle nuances.. just a big creamy gut bomb. We were missing Tom at this point, he had disappeared for what I assume was a cigarette break, when he walked behind us to come back behind the bar the odor of nicotine followed him. In the meantime, the manager had taken his place behind the bar and had this condescending, fake b.s. attitude that made our already unhappy stomachs crawl... The kind of guy you expect to find at a used car lot. This was seriously, one of the worst dining experiences I've had in the world and it would have been funny if not for the exorbitant prices these clowns have the audacity to charge for this mess. Avoid.
Save your $ – We had wanted to go to Vespaio for a while because of all the great reviews. When we finally went this week it was an awesome disappointment. The bartender was too busy doing inventory to make any conversation or even get our bread before the food arrived. We were the only one's there at the time. The bread was lousy considering it's made on sight. It was cold, undercooked and bland with a poor crust. The pizza was lousy, undercooked and bland. The lasagna was a pool of bad pasta and lackluster bolognese. The salmon and crab ravioli special was so bland and the "homemade" pasta was terrible. We ended up just having everything packed to go-for our dogs-and grabbing an awesome burger at Hut's. It was a $100 waste.
A taste of Italy – I used City Search to research restaurants for a recent 5 day stay in Austin. I was impressed with the reviews others gave this restaurant. It did not disappoint. Beginning with the bartender who was so friendly and offered suggestions on the wine and the food and the waiter who made us feel we were the most important people in the restaurant. The food was spectacular...the Duck Bolognese was fabulous as was everything else to include the dessert which was a cappuccino flavored mousse that was to die for.
Don't miss this one!!
love it – great menu, great quality, great service! it's a little small and can get loud so i wouldn't recommend if you are trying to have an intimate dinner.
LOVE! – LOVE, LOVE this place. love everything about it really. (oh, except it can get pretty loud - but i won't be stopped!) everything i've eaten here has been delicious. the butternut squash ravioli - YUM, the pizza - great, salad - yes, dessert - give me more! i also love how slow it is. you are not rushed to give up your table for the people waiting. they bring you each dish with a pause between - it gives you time to unwind and relax and TALK! such a great place to go when the kids are home with the sitter!! give me more!!
oh, and we went a little early, put our name on the list, gave them our cell #, walked around the shops and they called us when our table was ready. love it!
Nice place for a date, night out, etc – It's a romatic place with pretty good italian food. Everything has so much butter and that's totally not italian at all though. Service is pretty good, not the most impressive. Quality of food is not consistent. I eat here pretty often and I order pretty much same appitizer/dish and the taste of food changes every time.
it's okay, too moo much hype – This place was so crowded, we bumped elbows with the table next to us. It was my date's favorite italian in town. We made reservations but still waited half an hour. Nice rustic brown interiors, the ambience might have been good if it wasn't so darned busy. Prices were pretty high. The food was really oily and not as tasty- I felt like I was missing some essential italian herbs. I was pretty dissapointed.
Best Italian in Austin – Vespio is the best Italian in Austin--and probably one of the top restaurants in Austin.
Here's the little known secret: The best way to have fun and enjoy Vespio is to sit at the bar, which is much livelier than the restaurant. Tom, the bald bartender with glasses, is among the best mixologists ever. Sit at the bar and let him recommend the food and wine pairings. The tuna tartar is to die for, so that's a must. And Tom will set you up with a nice antipasto plate and maybe a pasta for sharing. Maybe a salad too, and you're full. No need for entrees for each person.
After reading the prior review, I felt obligated to share my opinion. It's so weird that those people thought Enotica is fabulous and Vespio is not. Hello...it's the same owner and chef, except Enotica is a little cheaper / casual and doesn't serve the tuna tartar. They're both great!
Terrible! What gives? – My husband and I were looking for a new restaurant late on Saturday night. We gave up and tried Enoteca because we loved it, but it was closed. So we ventured next door to Vespaio, thinking you can't screw up Italian food. WRONG!
We started with a cocktail as we browsed the impressive menu and wine list. I was excited. it looked great! We ordered a bottle of wine, per our usual routine, and got vinegar! It was terrible! We ordered the flavorless, rubbery calamari and cesar salads (which were pretty good).
We then ordered our meal. The waitress recommended the veal which was tough and salty. It tasted like Luby's chicken fried steak. To be fair, the fried zuccini was crispy and fresh.
My husband's lasagna tasted like chef boyarde... plasticy and sausage-heavy.
The food was over-priced and all we could do is laugh at the experience. At least our hefty bill could count as entertainment. We learned to never go to a place just because it's open... and we will never again go back to Vespaio.
I just can't understand why there are so many great reviews. Either nobody knows anything about food or wine or they are just stacking their own blog.
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