Hot gooey cheese and tomato sauce smothering fresh hand made pasta cooked to perfection alongside chewy soft crunchy bread… What could be better on a rainy day? Which is why I chose to check out Mandola’s Italian Market last night with my wonderful father companion. My scale did not like my decision this morning especially since I had queso and crawfish and potatoes smothered in cheese on Sunday, but I regret nothing! Gotta enjoy life right?
Mandola’s is a family owned restaurant started by Damian and Trina Mandola. There are currently 3 locations in Austin, one of which is run by the Mandola’s twin sons Dominic and Damian Jr. Mandola. The passion and love that the family puts into their work is obvious.
The restaurant is also a cafe and market selling breads and various different Italian cooking staples. The cafe has coffee and espresso, amazing looking pastries and gorgeous looking gelato. The smell of garlic and tomatoes lingers in the restaurant making your mouth water.
Usually me and my dad spend a good 5 minutes or so going back and forth saying “what do you want?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” not really wanting to order something the other doesn’t want to try. However, this time my dad was certain. Meat lovers pizza and Lasagna! So that’s what we got! Along with bruschetta, my choice.
At Mandola’s you stand in line behind a counter, order your food, then sit down wherever you want with a little number and they’ll bring your food to you. Very convenient and easy, and with the tons of employees running around, you’ll be sure to be served promptly.
The bruschetta came out along with a basket of complementary bread, ciabatta bread I thinkkk or focaccia, im not sure im no expert. The bruschetta was delicious though! Crunchy garlic toasted bread topped with halved and whole cherry tomatoes. So simple but when done right so delicious.
Next came out the pizza and lasagna! The pizza really surprised me. I’m not a big fan of meatballs or hamburger meat on my pizza, and from the size of the meatballs on this pizza I was a little iffy, but I was wrong. These meatballs were REAL meatballs, like you would actually put in pasta, and they were GOOD! Perfectly seasoned, and it really didn’t overpower the rest of the pizza. The pizza oven they make the pizza in gives the crust a nice crunchy crust and cooks it to perfection. Not too much cheese, not too much meat, just good.
Now for the best thing we ordered, the lasagna! Lasagna can be tricky to master sometimes, you gotta have the right amount of sauce, the right amount of cheese, a good pasta, and cook it right. Mandola’s does just that. Right away you can taste the freshness of the pasta dough, it tastes homemade and it’s great! The sauce is sweet and tangy and the cheese compliments it perfectly. The ricotta filling in between each layer is absolutely heavenly…. Seriously, this competes with my momma’s lasagna. Ok, my mom’s not Italian only been to Italy once, but it’s my mom’s and she make’s a damn good lasagna. Nothing tastes better than fresh ingredients and handmade homemade pasta dough. Store bought just does not cut it.
If you couldn’t tell I liked the place. The food was great, the atmosphere charming and cute, the only thing I would change is to make it a little more adult friendly and a little less kid friendly. I know I know, a lot of people like that it’s kid friendly, but when I go out to eat I don’t like being surrounded by a bunch of kids screaming and running all over the place. But I urge you all to try this place out and be reminded how good Italian food can be.