I recently stopped by Mandola’s for a long overdue revisit to the classic Austin restaurant. Mandola’s may appear to be an average fast casual restaurant, but appearances can be deceiving. Yes, it is counter service and casual, and there is a cheese and French fry pizza option, but when it comes to the quality of food, Mandola’s is anything but run of the mill. Spend a little time at the Italian market and eatery, and the secret to Mandola’s long running success becomes clear. Service is quick and welcoming, the atmosphere is family-friendly, and the menu is reasonably priced. Most importantly, the generously portioned dishes are both high quality and authentic.
I recently visited Mandola’s during lunch and was quickly reminded why I need to stop by more often. After debating over options like Sicilian tomato salad with fresh ricotta salata and Parma pizza topped with arugula and prosciutto, I opted for a simple order of minestrone soup and salad. While not the most adventurous order, Mandola’s version reminded me exactly why this classic Italian soup is a personal favorite. The broth was flavorful and not overly salty. Seasonal vegetables filled each spoonful. The pasta was still wonderfully al dente, a sign of the soup’s freshness. Paired with the mista house salad, it was an excellent lunch decision. Each meal comes with Mandola’s addictive freshly baked bread which is salty, chewy, and a perfect partner to minestrone soup. After an Americano from the coffee bar to cap off lunch, I left a very happy customer.
As for the market, Mandola’s shelves are adequately stocked enough to please anyone’s Italian grandmother. Mandola’s market is filled with housemade prepared foods and cheeses, charchuterie, and Italian pantry staples. The market’s highlight is a carefully cultivated Italian wine section. The impressive selection showcases a wide range of both varieties and price points with more than a little something for everyone.
Mandola’s Italian Market. The Triangle. 4700 West Guadalupe St # 12. Austin, TX 78751-3778. 512.419.9700.www.mandolasmarket.com/