7/01/2013 09:58:00 AM

Would Vespaio Owners "Rather Be Golfing”?

Asparagus with fried eggs and Parmesan, a forthcoming menu item at Al Fico
We talked with Vino Vino owner Jeff Courington, who is planning to open new Italian eatery Al Fico in East Austin at the end of the summer, and he had quite a few things to say about other Italian ristorantes in town such as Vespaio, Enoteca, Winflo Osteria, Gusto and others. “Italian food in Austin has gotten lazy,” he said.

About Vespaio:
“Vespaio has lost their passion. The food is expensive but not that great. The owners would rather be golfing. But the restaurant is always packed. They should just sell it.” 
About Gusto:
"Gusto should just be bombed. They buy the cheapest ingredients, and they don’t care.”
So what is Courington going to do about it? His forthcoming pan-Italian eatery Al Fico, which he describes as “informed Italian food,” hopes to outdo existing restaurants with upscale takes on traditional dishes like tajarin di senape (mustard long noodles with a hen ragu, Napa cabbage, pancetta and fontina), cappelletti di castagne (chestnut-stuffed pasta with duck confit, butternut squash, brown butter and amaretti) and angolotti al plin (pasta stuffed with braised beef and sage with Grana Padano). The space will have an outdoor patio, bar seating and two dining rooms, and the feel will be dark and sophisticated. And like Vino Vino, they’ll have a killer wine list. This one will be entirely Italian, with wine from every region of the country. 

“We’re aspiring to be Lucia’s, in Dallas,” Courington told us.

He’s taking chef Dean Chambers on an eating tour to both New York and San Francisco, and Chambers has also spent time in Italy. But has the chef eaten at Vespaio? “I’ve actually never been there,” he said.

In other words, it looks like Al Fico has its work cut out for it, and we’re excited to see what happens.


  1. Wow. I think it's pretty cowardly to say terrible & untrue things about existing restaurants before opening your own. And rude. And surprising that a decent blogger/reporter would put those things out there. I won't be trying Al Fico based solely on the owner's nasty personality.

  2. I am astounded and appalled by this "Us Vs. Them" vitriol. Shame on you Jeff. Shame on you, Zagats for publishing yellow journalism.

  3. Jeff is right. Deal with it. Foodies know there is no good Italian food in Austin. If you think there is, you are a moron who has never eaten in Philly (Vetri is best Italian in Us) New York, Chicago, or San Francisco.

    1. We might not have dined on Italian in Philly, New York, Chicago or SF, but I'm married to a man who spent his formative years in Italy -- and my in-laws have spent the last 30 years living in Italy, off and on.

      Gusto is, collectively, one of our favorites. I'll take northern Italy over Philadelphia any day of the week.

  4. Even if what he said was true, it would not change the fact that he is rude and only putting down others to try to get some free publicity. There will always be haters out there, but shame on Zagat for letting him get away with it.

  5. I think Alan probably would like to play more golf but he is too busy working with his staff to source the highest quality ingredients so that he can serve some of the best food in Austin. I suspect that Jeff was quoted out of context. Give him the benefit of the doubt.

  6. To call this "yellow journalism" one would have to give it credit for being journalism in the first place - it's not.