olive & june’s newly appointed Executive Chef Justin Rupp is keeping it simple for summer. He’s focusing on fresh ingredients and creating new, light pastas that reflect what’s in season. For Rupp, the evolving menu at this updated Southern Italian spot in West Austin is a way for him to stay creative, please customers, and utilize the finest products on the market.
“The best thing about right now is that tomatoes have showed up in force” said Rupp, who was previously the chef de cuisine at parkside, another venture by restaurateur-chef Shawn Cirkiel. “We are featuring a variety of local tomatoes in our tomato salad, which is garnished with blossoms straight from my own garden, and I wanted to bring that freshness to a pasta.” That straightforward idea led to a capellini with fresh tomato and olive oil sauce, mussels, basil, lemon, lemon zest, and breadcrumbs. Rupp emulsifies fresh tomatoes with olive oil to create a bright tomato sauce. Another new pasta features house-made ricotta ravioli with a Parmesan corn sauce, roasted corn, and Swiss chard. “This dish allows us to showcase the summer sweet corn—and there is nothing better than the Parmesan and corn combo,” said Rupp.
The pasta offerings will continue to change throughout the course of the summer as ingredients go in and out of season. Rupp sources locally from purveyors such as Farm to Table, Phoenix Farms, and Johnson’s Backyard Garden. “We cook and think seasonally because that is when you can have the best products,” said Rupp. And to keep things light for summer, Rupp uses those fine ingredients smartly and sparingly, only adding a couple to any one pasta dish. Raw herbs, greens, or vegetables provide additional texture and finish as a garnish.
Rupp is originally from the Midwest, and he worked in the restaurant industry in Indiana before moving to Austin, where he landed a job at Magnolia Café. He then moved to Capitol Brasserie and Botticelli’s South Congress, where he was a sous-chef. Rupp eventually got a position with Cirkiel and helped the restaurateur open parkside, where he was a sous-chef. He later opened the backspace—a popular Neapolitan-style pizzeria—with Cirkiel and then worked as the chef de cuisine at parkside before moving to olive & june as executive chef.
olive & june, which boasts a striking interior space and three levels of tree-shaded outdoor dining, is open 7 days from 5 p.m. and is located at 3411 Glenview Ave, Austin, TX, 78703.
Photo Credit: Carrie Ryan