“Busy” is a perfect adjective to describe downtown Austin, Texas. Tall buildings tower above your head, people laugh loudly on restaurant patios, dogs greet one another on leashes, and a medley of cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and electric scooters whiz past with each step you take. In all this hustle and bustle, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed or slightly intimidated. Luckily for Austinites and tourists, there are plenty of pleasant shops downtown that help slow life down.
One of my favorite places in the downtown 2nd Street District is Alimentari 28, a small pasta house tucked in among the chaos. Two things initially drew me to this restaurant: a relaxing outdoor seating area and a chalkboard sign with the words “Fresh, handmade pasta” handwritten on it. Outdoor seating offers hanging potted plants, window boxes sprouting green ferns, clean white tables, colorful umbrellas, and happy customers in each and every chair.
The interior of the restaurant is just as charming, with modern furniture and decorations reminiscent of Italian culture on the walls. The whole place feels relaxing and authentic. With a glass of house red in hand and oven-baked garlic bread at our fingertips, we were ready to order the best of what the pasta house had to offer.
My favorite Italian dish, Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken, includes handmade fettuccine pasta and a heavenly mixture of parmigiano cheese and heavy cream, topped with fresh parsley, cracked pepper, and juicy chicken. I enjoyed every bite out of the metal skillet in which the dish is served. As one who has eaten (and cooked) many a Fettuccine Alfredo in my life, I believe that this is one of the best.
My friend ordered Cacio e Pepe, a pasta dish that literally translates to “Cheese and Pepper.” We were shocked when our waiter came to the table with a bowl of hot, handmade pasta and an entire huge WHEEL of pecorino cheese. He carefully removed the pasta from the bowl and placed it into the hollowed-out wheel of pecorino coated with pepper. As he stirred, the pasta became coated in a thick layer of melted pecorino cheese and cracked black pepper. He then transferred the cheesy concoction onto a plate for our enjoyment. If you visit Alimentari 28, you MUST order this Cacio e Pepe. I know I’ll be returning to get another plateful.
Alimentari 28 is a world of Italian relaxation, where wine flows endlessly and pasta is made fresh each day. You may even forget you’re in Texas.