The seeds for Italic were first planted when Chef Andrew Curren of ELM Restaurant Group spent his last college semester abroad in Tuscany. They were cultivated when he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America – Hyde Park upon his return (where he graduated valedictorian of his class) and in subsequent experiences working alongside renowned chefs Danny Meyer, Floyd Cardoz and Jonathan Waxman in New York City. The idea further germinated while establishing 24 Diner, Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden and Arro, and, at long last, his dream of running an Italian restaurant will come to fruition on April 1.
Located at 123 W. Sixth Street in downtown Austin, the space designed by Veronica Koluniak of VeroKolt is designed to merge the aesthetic of the historic Starr Building (designed by mid-century marvel Florence Knoll) with Chef Drew’s vision of a rustic Italian eatery where friends and family can relax over simple, straightforward meals. Floor-to-ceiling aluminum-cased walls of windows and pops of bright yellow and forest green bring brightness to the massive, neutral-toned room accentuated by ash butcher-block tabletops, vintage furniture and custom architectural elements made of limestone, mahogany, fir and plexiglass. Leather-wrapped banquette backs and leather-clad seating pay homage to classic Italian décor, while two massive collages commissioned by graphic designer John Gall and filled with iconic Italian references invigorate the entrance and private-dining room.
Floating overhead and serving as both a focal point and mechanism to bifurcate the spacious dining room, the wine mezzanine is the pride of ELM’s Beverage Director, Master Sommelier Craig Collins. Craig actually roomed with Chef Drew on that fateful trip to Tuscany in 2001 and credits his own passion for wine to tasting a bottle of ’98 Bran Caia Blu together. In the years following, Craig travelled extensively throughout Italy and imported the wares of premier estates. As a result, Italic’s easy-to-navigate, 100-percent Italian wine list is organized by varietal and region, and Craig has sourced amazing producers for the wine program, including the house red and white kegs. The bar menu includes a Negroni on tap, as well as Italian-influenced cocktails, local and internationally renowned craft beers (served in teku glassware) and classic Italian apéritifs and digestifs. Happy Hour aficionados will be pleased to learn that complimentary fresh-baked focaccia sandwiched with meats and cheeses will accompany all bar beverages ordered weekdays between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm.
The aluminum-and-glass-encased open kitchen holds a top-of-the-line, stone-hearth pizza oven that will yield an array of pies, as well as a handful of entrées such as roasted half chicken, Ora King salmon and Florence-style T-bone steak. The menu will be updated frequently to reflect seasonal produce and can be approached in any number of ways, from a quick lunch special (a starter and pasta for $15 or two starters and a pizza designed to share for $30) to a leisurely dinner of coursed small plates more reminiscent of what you might actually experience in Italy. If you opt for the latter, start with antipasti such as burrata or baked ricotta served with rustic Italian bread created exclusively for Italic by Easy Tiger baker David Norman, then select a starter such as roasted cauliflower or the shaved Brussels sprouts salad. Share a pizza (perhaps the Italian sausage with black kale, goat cheese and roasted garlic) and then opt for a smaller-size portion of pasta such as penne rigate alla Bolognese or bucatini all-Amatriciana before settling on an entrée. Stand-out contorni (sides) include crispy polenta and rustic potatoes. Conclude your meal with one of Pastry Chef Mary Catherine Curren’s housemade dessert selections, including daily rotating selections of gelati and sorbetti and a farm-to-table crostada.
The creative team includes the architectural and design team at Furman + Keil Architects, the branding team at McGarrah Jessee, commercial builders Franklin-Alan and custom fabricators Drophouse Design.
Courtesy of Evelyn Sher -Media Director/ELM Restaurant Group
Photos: Hayden Walker