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RESTAURANT REVIEW: Sammie's Italian - It's Not Little Italy, But Still The Closest You'll Get In Austin

Updated: Jan 26

When I lived in Little Italy in New York City, I was spoiled for choice when it came to delicious Italian food.

I could visit any "red sauce" joint just steps away on Mulberry Street (see definition below from The Food Network) and savor a sublime sweet and tangy tomato marinara over fresh homemade pasta.

These Italian-American spots — often referred to as "red sauce" joints — serve heaping portions, often topped with their own red sauce made from a recipe passed down through generations.

So when I heard about Sammie's Italian opening during COVID in Austin, I knew I needed to make a pilgrimage. Yet life got in the way, and I never made it despite hearing rave reviews from my friends and colleagues.

Finally, I got the opportunity to dine at Sammie's last week.

The front entrance of Sammie's Italian in Austin, Texas
Sammie's Italian in Austin, Texas

Located on West 6th Street in the former Huts Hamburgers location, which closed in October 2019 to make way for the swankiest and most anticipated Italian restaurant in Austin, Sammie's aspires to provide a Manhattan-like Little Italy experience.

In fact, Sammie's own website states it offers "A Little Taste of Old Italy in Austin, Texas."

Getting reservations can be a challenge unless you want to dine at 9pm or later; however, Sammie's offers a glamorous, but small bar, and you can usually get a walk-in spot there right at 5pm when the doors open.

The luxurious bar at Sammie's Italian restaurant in Austin, Texas
Bar at Sammie's Italian

Fortunately, I had a reservation, and as I was escorted to my table by the Italian-speaking and -looking maître d, I noticed waiters outfitted in red jackets with white shirts and black ties.

The staff were all friendly, and immediately they brought me warm focaccia bread and breadsticks while I waited for my friend to fight rush hour traffic in Austin.

When I arrived at 5:00pm on a Thursday night, Sammie's was empty; however, by 5:30, half of the seats were full, and when I left at 7:00pm the place was PACKED.

Unlike the controversial and astronomically-priced Pasta|Bar Austin, Sammie's prices mostly range from $30-60 an entree, depending on if you desire pasta or a nice cut of meat.

We started with the mozzarella sticks ($16), paired with a depressingly mundane arrabbiata - but thankfully also alongside a delicious ranch with homemade pesto that leaves you begging for more.

fried mozzarella sticks with arrabbiata sauce and a pesto ranch
Mozzarella Sticks

The mozzarella sticks were exquisitely cooked, and the perfectly savory fried taste of the golden brown panko crust with the gooey mozzarella was a hit.

The Caesar Salad ($18) was humdrum, but it did have a noticeably nice bite of lemon in the dressing, which dressed almost a half a head of baby Bibb lettuce.

For my main course, I had the lasagna ($38), which could be shared by 2-3 people. I am fine with this, because I can go home and put this in the fridge for a future leftovers feast.

a heaping portion of lasagna at Sammie's Italian in Austin, Texas

However, if you are a foodie with less than a lumberjack appetite, you probably want to split this dish with your fellow diners.

Just saying.

My friend had the Mafaldine with Funghi and Tartufo ($38), which is a pasta with a mushroom cream sauce and copious amounts of shaved black truffle on top.

Mafaldine with Funghi and Tartufo dish with black truffles
Mafaldine with Funghi and Tartufo

The dish was gorgeously tasty and visually stimulating but VERY RICH.

For our finale, we had the Tiramisu ($15), which was a fantastic end to the meal. I got traces of the alcohol, coffee, mascarpone cream and ladyfinger cake in all the right amounts.

a delicious tiramisu with dripping mascarpone cream

Paired with an espresso or limoncello, this dessert selection is the FOODIE way to end the meal on a high note.

I would give Sammie's a 8.5/10 - the food could have been better, but the service, ambience and overall prestige make it a MUST DO in Austin, Texas.

I hope you enjoyed this Sammie's Italian Restaurant Review; to read more of my restaurant reviews from Austin and around the world, check out the Travel and Wanderlust section of my website.

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