Friday, February 24, 2012

Bella Cucina

I am going to let you in on a little secret. I just found an AMAZING new trailer -- Bella Cucina, on South Lamar, just south of Red's Porch, doing Italian street foods.  My need to *research* some South ATX food trailers for an upcoming post led me to this gem.
I pulled into the lot around noon, and I was the only one there. I went up to the window, and was immediately greeted by the owner Dominic. I said this was my first time here, what did he recommend? He asked if I was more in a meat or chicken kind of mood. I said I leaned toward meat, as I was eyeing the three meat panini (salami, soppressata, and prosciutto, I believe he said). He nodded his approval, and got it started.
While he's prepping food, I asked him about the now-closed trailer parked next to his. He said that Red's Porch (who is also his landlord) recently bought it, and they have plans to do breakfasts and lunches out of it. There's also a Mexican foods trailer that's supposed to be joining the lot too. As we're chatting, he offers me two meatballs that have been simmering in sauce.  Soooo incredibly tender, they fell apart as soon as you stuck a fork in them, and tasted so good. Another trinity of meats: veal, pork and beef, and I sing the meatball's praise to Dominic. We keep chatting, and I ask him how he got started here. His background was actually as a contractor, installing pizza ovens in restaurants. He's from New York originally (you can hear it in his voice!) and of Italian descent (of course!), and his family just moved to Austin about a year ago for his wife's job, plus her extended family were in the area.
He then says, oh I am going to throw in a small salad that someone ordered, but never came and picked up. At this point, I "reveal" my identity as a food blogger, something I don't regularly do when dining out, as I want to write about the food as it is presented to any customer. Dominic then insists on giving me two half-sandwiches to take with me. As we had been chatting, his mother-in-law and a friend have pulled up, and ordered some food. He gives me half of his MIL's chicken and pesto sandwich, because he says he knows she won't eat the whole thing! He also wraps up a porchetta and broccoli rabe sandwich (more on these in a minute), and hands me a bag with all this food! Incredibly generous.

I went to the picnic table to eat my panini. It was still screaming hot off the panini press, and there was nice bits of crusty cheese oozing out. The bread was crispy, some basil pesto and giardineria (pickled veg) inside too; dense, filling, and delicious. I posted this pic on Facebook, and one of the comments left was "I want that in my mouth NOW!" Yeah, you do!
Here's the food that he sent me off with. I think my only criticism of everything that I tried was the salad dressing -- not homemade. Other that, it was fantastic. I offered some of the porchetta to some food friends today, and they loved it, so tender, moist. And who would have thought to put broccoli rabe on a sandwich, but it really worked. The chicken and pesto re-warmed very nicely in the toaster oven for dinner, and the chicken was still in great condition.
Dominic has visions for the lot -- he'd like to beautify it a bit more, and maybe close off one of the driveways as to make it safer for kids, since it's right on Lamar. He's thought about grab and go dinner service, as the evening traffic is thick going down Lamar. Further down the proverbial road, he's got some thoughts about opening a New York style deli, with cold cuts and sandwiches. I told him he absolutely should! Austin needs something like that! I've also encouraged him to use Facebook a bit more to promote the place, and list the menu, specials, etc, as like many trailers, he's having troubles attracting diners. And I told him I'd give him a shout out! ;) So "like" Bella Cucina's page on Facebook, and get yourself over there and try his food! (I believe current hours are Mon thru Sat, 10:30 am - 3:30 pm.) Super nice, genuine guy with great food. What's not to love? Buon appetito!


  1. This is right near my office! Adding to my "to-try" list. Thank you!

  2. Best food by the best brother-in-law!!!
    Love ya!


  3. Now I have a craving for a Bella Cucina meatball sandwhich!!! Soooo good!!