Uncle Nicky’s, the highly anticipated new casual Italian cafe from the teams behind Italian restaurant Juniper (Nicholas Yanes), Detroit-style pizzeria Via 313 (Brandon and Zane Hunt), and neighborhood bar Nickel City (Travis Tober), is now open in the Hyde Park neighborhood at 4222 Duval Street as of today, Wednesday, January 30.
The group got together with the goal of turning the former gelato shop into something Italian. That “snowballed from a sandwich shop into an all-day cafe meets aperitivo with an Austin twist,” Tober said.
Uncle Nicky’s is meant to be a “fun, casual place,” Yanes explained. “Super easy.”
It’s a “throwback to a neighborhood joint, keep it inexpensive,” Tober added. “Keep everything cheap, just be here for the people.
Uncle Nicky’s all-day menu focuses on Northern Italian fare. The highlight of the counter- and table-service restaurant is the pane tostatos, which are essentially bruschetta with various toppings. Options include whipped salt cod; the PB&J made with pine nut butter and dried fig compote; and the What’s ‘Nudja with the smoked spicy Calabrian sausage.
Elsewhere, there are piadinas (Italian flatbread sandwiches), antipasti (stuffed peppers, wagyu beef carpaccio), salads, and a dedicated breakfast menu with a Taylor pork roll sandwich.
The cocktail menu is simple and Italian, emphasizing low-alcohol drinks. “Austin is a day drinking city, it’s got that vibe,” Tober said. He is particularly excited about the Garibaldi, made with frozen Campari and fluffy orange juice processed through the cafe’s cold-pressed juicer. Then there are Aperol spritzes, Negronis, and the pina colada-esque Dolce Vita with coconut sorbet and prosecco.
The counter- and table-service space was designed by Sanders Architecture, which also worked on Juniper. Eater photographer Courtney Pierce previewed the restaurant, with blue benches, a patio, and low-bar seats.
Juniper is essentially Uncle Nicky’s commissary kitchen: the focaccia for the pane tostatos are made at the Italian restaurant, Juniper’s pastry chef Derrick Flynn is making the gelato and pastries (crullers, bombolinis, and cannoncino).
Juniper’s former chef de tournant Nick Intonti is Uncle Nicky’s chef and operator. Rounding out the team is Matthew Bolick (Wright Bros. Brew & Brew, Better Half) overseeing the coffee and espresso menus (using Heart Coffee beans) and Michael Crowley (Juniper’s wine director) on the wine list.
At later points, Uncle Nicky’s will add weekend brunch (look out for a cold-pressed Bloody Mary) and grab-and-go items (sandwiches, salads).
There is an opening party planned for Monday, February 4, where spritzes, Negronis, and other cocktails will be half-off, along with a free Italian aperitivo buffet from 5 to 7 p.m.
Uncle Nicky’s hours are from 7 a.m. to midnight daily.
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