CraigO’s Pizza & Pastaria

Posted by on May 6, 2011 in Family, Italian, Pizza, Reviews, South
4970 Hwy 290 W., Ste. # 460
Austin, TX 78735
(512) 891-7200
11215 S. IH-35, Ste. #118
Austin, TX 78747
(512) 282-7499
5501 Balcones Dr.
Austin, TX 78731
(512) 323-0660
2501 Lakeway Dr.
Lakeway, TX 78734
(512) 402-1600
690 Centerpoint Rd.
San Marcos, TX 78666
(512) 558-2220
Mon-Fri: 10:30am-10pm
Sat: 10:30am-10pm
Sun: 11am-9:30pm



CraigO’s Pizza & Pastaria

Craig O’s is a locally owned group of pizza and pasta restaurants with the original store on 4790 Highway 290 just east of Brodie in south Austin. This looks like your basic strip-mall Italian eaterie with one huge exception. This little place rivals some of the downtown Italian hot spots with respect to the quality of many of the entrees.

Surprised? I’m not. I knew that when I had my first taste of the Eggplant Parmesan back in 2003 that this place would be a cut above. And it still is.

Let’s begin with the Antipasto and the salads. I have a weakness for a good antipasto and Craig O’s certainly has one. The salad mix of fresh greens, tomatoes, onions, pepperoncini, garbanzo beans, and mozzarella cheese topped off with Italian cold cuts and a zesty vinaigrette is hard to beat. And the Greek Salad bears gifts that one does not have to be wary of! (Small pun.) It’s flat out tasty in the classic Greek style. And it’s not ramped up with Feta cheese: just the right balance. I really like the Fresh Pasta Salad as well. They use Rainbow Rotelli and the corkscrew shape makes for the perfect pasta salad.

The entrees at Craig O’s are reasonably priced but packed full of value and taste. You must start with the Italian Sausage and Peppers. Normally your basic strip mall Italian joint falls flat on this dish. But Craig O’s knocks it 0ut of the park. We’re talking nuanced flavors and a really compelling but not too spicy red sauce. And the Baked Spinach Ziti is another keeper. It could be just a bit crunchier for my taste but that’s a minor issue. The flavor is there and the texture delivers as well. And finally, somebody figured out how to use Ricotta cheese in Baked Ziti. Nice job. And then we move on to the Eggplant Parmesan. As noted, this was the first thing I ever tried at Craig O’s. It has a mellow, smooth tastes (a really engaging red sauce) and a classic texture. It’s not tricked up with garlic and it goes down nicely. This is a classy and very tasty dish that rivals anything I’ve had in town, including restaurants with considerably higher price points. New to the menu is a Penne Pasta in an Alfredo sauce that absolutely rocks. The sauce is smooth and not overly buttery as can be the case with poorly made Alfredos. The penne is al dente and blends nicely with the sauce.

We would be remiss not to mention the pizza at Craig O’s. It may not have made the Top 5 in our Pizza wars but it’s certainly going to please those with east coast sensibilities. The House Special is made with all my favorites: Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, roasted green peppers, caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese and a nicely blended red sauce with just a bit of zip to it. And the Veggie is loaded with the kinds of fresh produce that would melt a vegan’s heart. It also has a very nice balance and a nice, crisp crust.

So do not, by any means, pass by Craig O’s and dismiss it as just another strip mall pizza/pasta joint. It is most certainly NOT!

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