|1213 West Lynn St.
Austin, TX 78703
On a little corner off West Lynn between 6th St. and Enfield, two restaurants sit adjacent to each other. One is the fabled bistro classic Jeffrey’s, a restaurant with a national reputation. The other is Cipollina, more casual yet no less accomplished than its older sister restaurant.
Cipollina has evolved over time to a more fast-casual environment. But don’t let that fool you. The fare is excellent.
I have a hard time not beginning with the Fried Cauliflower with a mellow remoulade sauce. This is substantially better than the comparable offering at Bess mainly because it has textural integrity. Not some mushy amalgam of wilted veggies but crisp and delicious. Equally tasty is the Calamari. Yeah, I know that virtually every restaurant in the universe serves this appetizer. But Cipollina’s version retains a taste that screams out, “I am squid and I am proud!” Nothing tricked up here. Just flavor. And did I mention the Stracciatelle Egg Drop Soup? This is the Italian version of the Ch
inese classic tricked up with parmesan and tomatoes and a bit of semolina. And I love it!
The Small Plate offerings at Cipollina are almost always something at least one of us gets when dining there. The show stopper, in my humble opinion, is the Duck Confit with sautéed spinach and goat cheese. Aside from being a 48-hour labor of love, this ever-so-tender duck works beautifully on a layer of spinach, goat cheese, red onions over a fresh focaccia bread. And just behind it on the Balon scale is the House-Cured Salmon and Bruschetta.
The sides of the fish are rubbed in a salt, brown sugar and cloves and then sliced thin. The result is culinary bliss.
One would be remiss not to mention the sandwiches at Cipollina. Vegans will love the Grilled Veggies with fresh mozzarella and aioli. There is zest to this sandwich: a veritable mélange of taste energies. And please try the Steak with Grained Dijon Mustard. I have a profound weakness for all things Dijon: however, that being said, this is an excellent choice for flavor and texture. The balsamic onions and the French gruyere just take this over the top.
And finally, the last and perhaps the best at Cipollina. Their pizza pies have undergone a remarkable transformation over the past few years. The key? Keeping the temperature constant in the oven and being “even soaked” which means that the outside bricks are the same temp as the inside of the oven. My two favorites? The Lamb and Feta with roasted peppers and red onions. This is a thing of beauty coming out of the oven and its hits the palate like a runaway thoroughbred of taste: cool flavors galloping all over the place creating culinary bliss. And the Sausage and Mushroom is equally good. The red sauce retains a mellowness: not the bitterness one sees so often on disappointing Austin pizzas. In my recent Pizza Wars on Dining Out with Rob Balon I’ve elevated Cipollina into the top echelon. And for good reason.
So there you have it. Cipollina is fast, prompt, delicious, and anything but casual. This is some serious grub. And who would expect less with the culinary DNA this restaurant has.