With the barrage of Italian restaurants hitting Austin, Matthew Odam at The Statesman found himself let down by one of the contenders, Italic. The discrepancies between the intended style of Italian (homey) and the ambiance (cold and noisy) didn’t help ease of dining on some bad pastas, overreaching peach salad, and rough burrata. There were even pizza problems where mishaps prevented him from trying the pies more than once. The few bright moments of his meal came from the wood-fired oven dishes, which paired well with the impressive wine list.
A bronze crust capped an iceberg-sized piece of halibut enlivened by laces of fennel and given depth by a bed of caponata, the fish surrendering to the fork in meaty ivory slabs ($28). The roasted half-chicken ($21), draped in bright herb confetti and singing with citrus zeal, stood up to the tannins and spice of the 2012 Produttori del Barbaresco-Langhe Nebbiolo ($12/glass).
After Texas French Bread’s renovations which expanded the bakery into a restaurant earlier this year, Virginia B. Wood revisited the cafe for a new look. She already knew the lunch and the added breakfast and brunch menus were solid, so she tackled the dinner service. Aside from a few glaring missteps, like the flavorless pappardelle and very hard fruit tarts, the rest of the menu expressed the kitchen’s fresh and simple approach.
The grilled quail ($17) surrounded by squash, small smashed potatoes, and purslane wore the salty kiss of anchovy butter and was probably the most skillful plate on the table that night, although I was very impressed with the steak frites ($27), dressed with a verdant green chimichurri-inspired salsa and another helping of those dynamite frites. The TFB rendition of that French bistro staple is as good as any you'll find in town.