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Restaurant Review: Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse

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The years roll by, and before you know it, you are celebrating 21 years together. (Yes, it could happen to you; if you’re lucky, that is.) Paula Jo decided we should celebrate with a special meal, just the three of us. We loaded up our favorite Designated Driver and headed over to a new restaurant here in Austin: Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse.

Okay, that makes it sound more spontaneous than it really happened. We knew DiMaggio’s had just opened in a new, upscale shopping area known as the Domain, near IBM’s “Pink Palace” on Burnet Road. We suspected, because it’s fairly new and we wanted to eat there on Friday night, that we’d need reservations. That was more than true, but DiMaggio’s uses both phone-in reservations and a real-time web service known as Open Table. I’d never heard of them, but they worked well for us and we had a table reserved in a couple of minutes. When we arrived at the restaurant, they were expecting us. Turns out, as soon as you make a reservation through Open Table it shows up at the maitre d’s greeting station. Very nice!

The layout of the restaurant is novel, with plenty of eating areas that can be partitioned off from the main room and bar. This time of year there are lots of corporate holiday parties going on (there were two the night we were there), so their arrangement makes it possible to get maximum activity. We had a late slot for dinner (after 9 P.M.), but the place was still hopping! The bar was especially active.

The decor is well done, with dark woods, leather-covered sofa-booths, and just the right lighting. Lots of New York atmosphere, covering the Thirties through the Fifties and a little beyond, with plenty of interesting pictures of “Joltin’ Joe” from throughout his life. (I was a bit concerned there would be too much focus on Marilyn Monroe, but that part was quite understated.) They have a nice wine selection room, and great outdoor seating. The outdoor area was busy, as the evening was warm and still for this time of year. Lots of stonework, fireplaces, and soft, cushiony sofas make the al fresco experience at DiMaggio’s very inviting.

And what of the food, you ask? We give DiMaggio’s very high marks overall. We began our evening with an antipasto plate that was delightful, with prosciutto di Parma, salami, Parmigiano and Bocconcini cheeses, marinated olives and pepperoncini, and more. A great start to the meal! There were several other nice appetizers listed on the menu, including Fritto Misto (calamari, shrimp, veggies, lemon roulade) and Baked Cambozola Cheese. We were pleased with our choice, but we’ll try others on our next visit. WinePeppersVertA.gif

For main courses we chose Baked Goat Cheese Ravioli (for Jessica), a New York Strip (for the occasionally carnivorous Paula Jo), and Veal Marsala (for me). Unfortunately, Jessica’s dish was sold out, a risk with daily-prepared dishes whenever you eat late at an upscale grillroom. Oh well. The chef suggested she try the Braciole, and she wasn’t disappointed. Her veal was stuffed with great flavors (prosciutto cotto, provolone, pine nuts and more), and was more than she could get around. The tomato demi sauce served with the rolls was one of the best I’ve ever tasted!

Paula Jo’s steak was done just the way she liked, and accompanied by tasty sides: Parmesan Potato Gratin and seasonal veggies. My veal dish was outstanding, and I was rather saddened when it ran out. My entrée was accompanied by mushrooms, mashed potatoes and spinach; normally I don’t care for spinach, but this edition was very tasty. Probably had way too much butter on it for my health, which is just fine; butter, like fine Scotch or bacon, is one of those things where too much is just right.

We had a wine with the meal, and I decided to splurge on a whole bottle. (Hey, if you can’t splurge after 21 years, then don’t go!) The decision wasn’t easy, but I found a Peppoli Chianti Classico, and it was a great choice. The flavors were complex enough to support the steak dinner, and not so overpowering that it clashed with the Veal Marsala. Of course, Veal Marsala has more flavor than many veal dishes; I’m not sure this chianti would work well with lighter flavors. The vintage was 2005, young for many reds, but we thoroughly enjoyed the whole bottle. Good thing we had a captive, er, exceptional designated driver handy!

We’ll be back to Joltin’ Joe‘s for sure…

Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse can be found in the Domain, at 11410 Century Oaks Terrace; between Braker Lane and Burnet Road, along north MoPac. This location is the second for this restaurant; the original is in San Francisco, on Union Street in the North Beach area; Joe’s birthplace!

Enjoy the (Sluggin’) Heat!


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2 comments to Restaurant Review: Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse

  • Hector Maartinez

    Our family picks out a different Special Restaurant to kick off the holiday season. This year was Dimaggios……………
    Food was very good,except my wives stake was requested well done and was received medium, but the General Mgr. took care of it immediately. Where they were lacking was service. They have enough personnel but they gather in groups of twos and threes around the restaurant. We never received any rolls until well into the dinner and this was by request. We constantly had to request water and ice tea. Decor is great, music a little loud for groups who are spread out and can’t hear each other. We’ll go back one more time because it’s a very novel restaurant but I really search out good service.

    Martinez Family

  • Hector,

    Sorry I missed your post; I got distracted. Yes, when we where there the place was very busy with Holiday groups and such; made service a bit problematic, as you noted. We’re planning to go back soon (mid-May), before the graduation crunch, and see how it goes.

    Like you, I don’t go back if the service fails; especially at these prices…

    CD