It has been said that life is a combination of magic and pasta.
In that case, you’ll find both at North Italia. The restaurant, currently with two locations in Austin, two in Dallas and one in Houston, specializes in Italian food, made from scratch every day. Once you venture into North, you’ll discover much more.
In Italy, homemade foods and pastas, and dishes and desserts made from scratch, have long been an expression of love and community – an integral part of everyone and everything Italian. At North, a genuine enthusiasm for their food, dishes, ingredients – including the presentation – emanates from each server. And, perhaps, the infectious enthusiasm is the main ingredient for what distinguishes this restaurant from others.
‘Handmade with love from scratch daily’ is somewhat subtlety displayed in small, passport-looking stamps in various places on the lunch, brunch, dinner and dessert menus. North is serious about making their foods from scratch and they could turn up the volume on that message to diners. Virtually every item on the menu is either made in-house or is largely comprised from house-made sauces and dressings – you’ll even find cocktails with house-infused vodkas.
Spending time talking with the staff will be well worth the conversation to learn just how dedicated the chefs are. Their knowledge goes well beyond reciting menu ingredients and within minutes, you’ll likely be grappling with the decision to start with the white truffle garlic bread made with house-made ricotta cheese on homemade bread or the crispy calamari with a house-made grilled lemon vinaigrette so exceptional that two bites will have you opting out of ever wanting to go back to the sweet, marinara dipping sauces on other appetizer menus.
The salads, popular with regular diners, are not made with local farm-grown ingredients but they are substantial and vary with the seasons. The Caesar, with over-sized, house-made croutons and Grana Padano cheese tastes as good as it looks, while the Italian Farm, complete with sliced salami, will appeal to the staunchest carnivore. The dressings and vinaigrettes are made from scratch and a quick scan across the room confirmed that very little lingered on any plate.
When most people think of Italian food, they think of pizza and pasta. North serves up a variety of both and one particular pizza stands out. The chefs have created a combination of thinly sliced prosciutto paired with fig, goat cheese and arugula on their signature house-made crust, made daily steps away from the pizza oven. The ‘Prosciutto’ may not hold the initial appeal to diners who are more interested in the spicy pepperoni, soppressata and Italian sausage on ‘The Pig’, however the popular pizza promises to deliver. The Prosciutto lands in your mouth with just the right combination of salty and savory goodness. The house-made pastas all have sauces made daily and the Bolognese, a house specialty, takes the traditional Italian pasta to a new level for those craving a hearty meal.
North’s Domain Austin location offers a great place for private events and parking is free and convenient. The ambience is welcoming and upbeat. The outside patio, sheltered from the elements, is dog-friendly and relaxed for those who want to sit and savor dessert – because life is too short to pass up the Salted Caramel Budino with, you guessed it, ingredients made from scratch.
Cover: The Bolognese is a house specialty at North Italia. Photo David Fox
Haven Lindsey resides in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories.