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Austin's Italian Scene Heats Up With Red Ash

01.19.2017 by: Tom Harris
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While Austin is experiencing a bit of an Italian dining renaissance, I’ve been pining for a crown jewel of the scene ever since the East Side’s Al Fico abruptly shuttered earlier this year. Enter Red Ash, a brilliantly executed restaurant in Downtown Austin.

A view from the loft

The space is cavernous and sleekly industrial, with exposed beams and ducting and a soaring graffiti’d unfinished concrete wall. The main level is nearly labyrinthine, with closely packed tables winding through a space bookended by the semi-open kitchen and an island bar, while a loft offers somewhat less noise and a bit more elbow room. I’m going to say that, for two people, the amount we ordered was juuust shy of shading into gluttony, but looking back on it, there wasn’t a single thing I regretted ordering.

The exquisitely balanced Capelletti

The Capelletti (or “Bishop’s Hats,” so named for their distinctive shape) were a textbook example of complexity in balance. Texturally, the pasta’s subtle al dente resistance gives way to the ricotta-spinach mixture, which sat at the nexus between crumbly and creamy. Crumbled walnuts, meanwhile, provided a bit of contrasting crunch. From a flavor perspective, those walnuts were actually the key to the whole dish, unlocking the latent earthiness of the other ingredients and providing a profound depth.

Seductive snapper

The Gulf Wild Red Snapper a la Plancha was a beautiful piece of fish, served alla Livornese with tomatoes, capers, olives and an herb broth that positively begged for bread to sop it up.

Cheese-infused polenta, also known as my girlfriend's Kryptonite

Polenta is one those things my girlfriend automatically orders whenever it’s on the menu, and that she both enjoyed the Mascarpone Polenta and ranked it fifth out of the five plates we tried says a lot about our experience at Red Ash.

Gloriously wood-grilled broccolini

I’ve always believed that anyone who claims to not like broccoli clearly hasn’t had it grilled. Red Ash’s Wood-Fired Broccolini backs up my belief, with the earthy char of the vegetable deepened with grated cheese and enlivened with tomato and anchovy.

Tirami-superb

Against our better judgment, we went with the Tiramisu. An unorthodox take on the classic, Red Ash’s version swaps out ladyfingers for a moist espresso cake. The cake’s hint of bitterness cuts through the richness of the mascarpone, making for a surprisingly light tiramisu (which isn’t saying much, I’ll grant you). All told, Red Ash more than fills the Al Fico-sized hole in my heart.
 

Red Ash's exterior

{Red Ash Official Website}

TAGS : Downtown , Red Ash