It’s Italian Cucina’s owner and Executive Chef Al Fini, an Italian native, has been delivering his love of Italian cuisine and culture to Austin for over 30 years.Published April 5, 2019
Fini began establishing his Italian culinary roots in Austin over 20 years ago when he opened Girasole, a Northern Italian cuisine restaurant on 4th Street. He followed up the family-owned business with the beloved east-side Italian specialty market, It’s Italian, which eventually expanded into It’s Italian Cucina located off South Lamar.
My mother and I visited this quaint eatery and were cheerfully and warmly greeted by Fini. We instantly felt welcomed and special just because we were choosing to dine there. With a contemporary mural as the backdrop, it’s hard not to notice the vast array of wines adorning the shelves around the restaurant.
I spoke with Fini and learned that he travels to Italy several times a year and brings back with him new wines, interesting Italian flavors and new ideas. He is literally bringing Old Italy to Texas.
So much of what I enjoyed about this restaurant was in the detail… For example, It’s Italian Cucina doesn’t serve regular water, although that is available, instead, Fini brings authentic Italian water to his patrons upon request.
With every dish looking positively divine, my mother ordered the Cesare Salad with Anchovy followed by Chicken Parmesan and Spaghettini. I opted out of my usual classic lasagna and chose the Ravioli Chicken with Rosemary Limoncello Orange Cream. Each bite becomes more delicious than the next and I was strongly tempted to lick the limoncello orange cream clean off the plate.
Fini’s labor of love is the menu with its exuberant celebration of Piedmontese cooking that highlights specialties from neighboring Northern regions such as Lombardy, Friuli, Valle d’Aosta, Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto. With Fini’s culinary team’s years of experience, they deliver it to diners with ease and delight.
The restaurant also features an Italian-inspired martini list, a unique list of Amaro and Grappas, and a wine list that is 100% Italian. Celebrating the quality and diversity of Italian grape varietals and vinification, you’ll find over 250 labels, 50 of which are rare varietals. At this time of year, diners can enjoy all that’s on offer either inside or on the patio flanked by sunny umbrellas, herb gardens and flower beds.
After many years of award-winning wine lists and dishes, critic raves and being the recipient of Ciao Italia and Zagat awards, It’s Italian Cucina is a place where Italian culture, quality and atmosphere are found in Austin.
“We love Austin and sharing our passion for Northern Italian delicacies with everyone.” Chef Al Fini
Since opening its doors a little over a year ago, It’s Italian Cucina has been named one of Austin’s 2018 Top 10 Restaurants and Best Wine Locations. Chef Fini’s Italian homage/labor of love offers delicious food with simple ingenuity, cosmopolitan sophistication and the rich and tasty character of authentic Italian cuisine perfectly paired with a creative wine selection. All with a little Texas flair.
Cover photo courtesy It’s Italian Cucina
Austinite Lisa Davis is the Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and a student at Concordia University Texas.