5/23/2013 10:27:00 AM

Sneak Peek at Umami Mia Pizzeria

The Barton Springs-area pizzeria in the old Romeo’s space isn’t officially open until May 31, but we have the scoop for you today. Last night Umami opened for friends, family and press, and we test-drove the menu, the drinks and the space. Stay tuned below for photos too.

The Space: Romantic yet stuffy Romeo’s is a thing of the past in the now bright interior - think bold primary colors, sunny windows and servers in shirts designed to look like soccer uniforms. We weren’t too convinced by the plastic-y metal plates that looked like they could double as Frisbees, and it seems the whole interior could use a bit of finesse. But once the outdoor patio is finished (complete with a walk-up by-the-slice counter) and the inside feels a bit more lived in, Umami could have a more comfortable vibe.

The Food: The smorgasbord of a menu made up for any decor snafus, with expertly prepared salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas. The chef takes care to create dishes he feels are full of umami, and nothing was lost in translation for us: impressive options included roasted peppers and coppa with Parmesan and whole white anchovies as a starter, as well as the house Italian salad with salami, frisee, arugula, olives and fried artichoke heart slivers. The fig sauce on the meatball sandwich reminded us more of smoky mole than anything Italian, but the grilled figs worked well with prosciutto, arugula and Gorgonzola on a pizza (as did the wood-roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese and balsamic reduction on another pie).

The Drinks: Oh, the drinks. The bevy of beverages spans craft beers, Italian wines and a team of craft cocktails. We were impressed with the housemade ingredients and refreshing taste of the cocktails like the blackberry caipirinha, the adult Italian soda (with Tito’s!) and the Thyme Will Tell (Tanqueray, lime juice, Limoncello, sprig of thyme).

The Crowd: The Barton Springs location means that Umami Mia is almost automatically a South Austin destination. With Shady Grove, Uncle Billy’s, Flipnotics and Juiceland nearby, a pizza place is in high demand. We suspect that the restaurant will get walk-ins in bathing suits from the Springs as well as diners coming from all walks of Austin.

The Cost: Moderate; a drink, an appetizer and an entree still come in under $35.

The Details: 1500 Barton Springs Rd.; 512-428-5175

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