Someone asked me the other day what I do for fun, and the first thing that came to mind was "eat". I love food. I follow news of restaurant openings and chef changes like most people follow Hollywood celebrities. With that in mind recently opened Burn Pizza + Bar has been on my radar for a while, and to be honest, I wasn't super excited for yet another Italian restaurant. Italian seems to be the hot new thing in Austin, and several new ones are slated for east Austin alone. On top of that, while I love pizza, I tend to be more of an East Side Pies kind of guy. Lucky for me Burn has more than a few pleasant surprises up their sleeve. Hint; it's way more than just pizza and a bar.
While it touts itself as a "pizza and bar" restaurant, a glance at the menu and a conversation with chef Tim Lane revealed that it's way more than that. It's the culmination of what Lane learned after working in Rome for 10 years and a collection of incredibly authentic Italian fare, all made from scratch. Let's take the arancini for example. It's one of my wife's favorite dishes, so we get it almost every time we go to an Italian restaurant. It came out perfectly crispy on the outside, but it was still moist on the inside, and had zen like balance of rice and ragu. Her verdict? Best she has ever had.
Of course as advertised they do have pizza as well, and they are quick to point out that it is Roman, not Neapolitan style pizza. Hailing from the capital city of Italy, Roman style is similar to Neapolitan pizza. It's thin crusted with slightly burned edges (hence the restaurant name), but the size is larger making these more for the sharing than trying to tackle alone. I opted for the Lustre Pizza which included house made mozzarella and fresh chicory (the Italian kind, not the shrub kind). Per the chef's recommendation I opted to toss on some anchovies which added an incredibly rich umami to the dish. Verdict? Two thumbs up.
Of course for me the true test of a good Italian restaurant is the pasta. It's the seemingly simple things like pasta that really show off a chef's dedication to the craft and attention to detail. I went for a nice rich pappardelle with a wild boar ragu. The pasta was exactly as it should have been, thanks I'm sure to the top notch ingredients. According to chef Tim Lane, the recipe includes 80 egg yolks and 4 different flours to get it just right.
It's not just the food that's good here though, service was on point and the North Arrow Studio designed space was on point and had a casual laid back atmosphere. There is plenty of seating, high tops in the front and tables in the back. My favorite place to sit is always at the bar, and here Burn has two options. Up front is the standard bar seating, but in the back is the kitchen bar. I'd recommend the latter where you can watch the food being made, and chat with the cooks about any specific questions you may have. Welcome to the hood Burn.