Look out, Lucky’s Puccias. Enoteca, Vespaio—you’d be wise to watch your step as well, brick and mortar though you may be. There’s a new Italian trailer in Austin that can juggle circles around you. And by circles, I mean the perfect fried risotto orbs (said to resemble oranges) called arancini at the eponymously named trailer, Arancini. Let’s start there, with three big, deep-fried risotto balls. With fat rice, peas, slivers of prosciutto, and melty mozzarella, these traditional Sicilian street-food delicacies tasted divine (though they didn’t need the Chef Boyardee tomato dipping sauce on the side). It was hard to decide which was my favorite, the arancini or the meatball slider. The spiced meat in the slider was stuffed with mozzarella and grilled to crispness on the border, packed all around with a tomatoey beef-and-carrot stew concoction, and delivered on a grilled, olive-oil-buttered bun. The stew fell off onto the plate almost as soon as I picked up the slider, but it was quickly devoured, as was the sandwich. After such decadence, I thought I’d pay penance with the fried brussels sprouts, but these turned out to steal the show. Crisp on the outside and butter-tender on the inside, they were served in a zesty lemon vinaigrette with plenty of capers. Addictive, light, and healthy, the brussels disappeared in a matter of minutes. Same went for the flatbread with shrimp and arugula—three hearty pieces of grilled flatbread with baby arugula in a light dressing with shaved Parmesan and a few flavorful, breaded baby shrimp on top (truthfully, I would have liked to have seen more shrimp). Ironically, the only flat note was the round rigatoni with house-made ricotta and tomato sauce. The ricotta was smooth if a little bland, and the tomato sauce and rigatoni had a strange aftertaste. The dish was topped with chopped Italian parsley but could have used some garlic or fresh basil to jazz it up. Arancini’s dessert, though, was pitch-perfect. They generally rotate sweets, and this week it was rich, buttery French toast stuffed with Nutella and grilled bananas and topped with crushed hazelnuts. The dish was so decadent, I’d order it any day over Dough’s amazing Nutella panini, in San Antonio. So maybe I should extend that warning offered above. To Italian restaurants all across Texas: Better watch your ovens and open flames. Arancini has arrived. SoFi Food Court, 601 W. Live Oak (512-284-8865). Dinner only. Tue–Thur 5–9, Fri & Sat 5–10. Posted by Megan Giller
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