|11506 Century Oaks Terrace
Austin, TX 78758
As many of you know, I don’t normally review restaurant chains. But after my first taste of the Arizona-based NoRTH at the Domain, I decided to make an exception. And that’s because NoRTH is much, much more than the typical mall restaurant that one finds these days.
The decor of NoRTH suggests a fun mood with perhaps a bit of whimsy. But there’s nothing whimsical about the food. That they take very seriously. We’ve dined there many times and the concept of light, modern Italian as articulated by executive chef Chris Christiano is well-executed by the chefs in Austin.
I always find their antipasti to be current, tasty and creative. The Bruschetta with Crescenza cheese, asparagus and prosciutto is a classic and very appealing presentation. I also like the Calamari which is wonderfully crispy and with the lovely Arugula and grilled lemons just sizzles. The Caprese at NoRTH is also a fine representation of this popular dish. I like the mozzarella burrata and the arugalo pesto which creates a seamless and lovely taste melange. And you simply must have the Italian Wedding soup with sausage and pecorino cheese. What taste! No wonder people in Italy are falling all over themselves to get married.
The pasta dishes at NoRTH reflect classic old-school Italian flavors with a light, modern touch. The Cavatelli is about spicy Italian sausage and braised beans. The Baked Zitti is also another classy dish with the requisite blends of sweet ricotta, bolognese, spinach and mozzarella. This is one of the few baked zitis in this area that actually capture the way this dish tastes in New York or New Jersey. Another favorite is the Strozapretti which translates to “priest choker” in Italian. The pasta has the shape of a rolled towel and the blend of chicken and mushrooms, toasted pine nuts and parmesan cream is irresistible. You certainly won’t want to choke your waiter after trying this: more like a hug.
The Piatti del Giorno reflects a wide array of intriguing flavors. I always begin with the Braised Short Rib with roasted root vegetables and white polenta. You want almost ridiculously tender with beautiful flavors, then this is for you. Another terrific choice is the Fire roasted New York Steak. This had lovely, nuanced tastes and the crisp potatoes and caramelized cippolini complement beautifully. And seafood fans will enjoy the Seared Scallops with corn risotto, braised leeks and a subtle essence of white truffle. Wow, this is a keeper folks.
So don’t be hesitant. NoRTH is miles ahead of any Italian chain concept. It may be a bit crowded and noisy but that beat empty and silent anyday. And there’s a reason it’s crowded: the food flat out rocks!