Tucked away on the east side of Cesar Chavez in Austin, Intero brings its take on Italian fare to the table in a crowded niche among the city’s foodie scene. Having opened its doors to the public earlier this year, Intero’s philosophy is utilizing locally raised and farmed “whole” animals and produce, to bring a sustainable and contemporary approach in their dishes.
The design of the restaurant feels very down to earth, with greys, browns and blues complimenting each other across a rustic, minimalist design and appealing woodwork, having tables and wood finishes hand-built by executive chef and co-owner Ian Thurwachter from used fence and pallet wood. The pastel blues give a subtle pop, and the atmosphere is very relaxed. I was lucky enough to get in before the crowds, so there wasn’t much noise to compete with, but I’m willing to bet that their layout keeps the volume low. Intero is designed in a way that makes guests feel secluded, and it’s appreciated.
The food speaks to the capabilities of the culinary team at Intero, taking a nose-to-tail, whole-plant approach, which eliminates most waste and demands creativity. This means that the menu will be constantly changing with seasonal features, which will help keep Intero fresh whether it’s your first visit or your 15th. Thurwachter is putting forth multiple great offerings with the help of the chef de cuisine Andre Molina and the kitchen team which includes Abigail Sernal, Andrew Moreno, Brooke Southwick, Erin Gomez, Logan Trussell, Micheal Mariscal, and Nico Hernandez.
During my outing to Intero, we started off with the sourdough bruschetta. The duck liver mousse plays well with the raisin, but the squash and walnut give it a nice earthy taste that set the pace for the main dishes. I will say, however, that I do wish it came with six slices rather than four. Perhaps my American appetite has conditioned me for larger portions, but if you’re sharing this dish with a friend, three delicious slices each is better than two.
That said, I was a fan of the presentation, keeping in tune with the rustic Italian feel vibe that Intero aims to achieve. The dishes we enjoyed kept with the tone, and complemented each other to tie the menu together for the most part. Moving on from the appetizer, our entrees were fantastic.
The wagyu beef carpaccio was visibly beautiful; bright and inviting with obvious attention to detail. Every bite taste seemed to bring out new flavors, depending on what came to the forefront. I do have to question this dish’s place on the menu however; not because of taste — it excels in that regard — but because it seems to pull away from the Italian feel. Japanese beef prepared in an Italian fashion with an English cheese and a not-so-Italian bread just doesn’t seem to fit. It’s delicious, but may not be true to the theme.
The charred quail was more on-brand for Intero. With a much more earthy look and taste, it was the perfect follow up to the opening bruschetta. The braised farro and pine nuts created a hearty foundation for the plate, and the bits of apple provide a hit of light, sweet flavor to give more character to each bite, similar to the raisins from the appetizer. It may not be as visually appealing as the carpaccio plate, but it’s not lacking in flavor.
I would highly recommend closing out the meal with some of Intero’s chocolate options, curated by pastry chef and chocolatier Krystal Craig who is also a co-owner. From bark to truffle, each option is a success, and easily Instagramable to make your best friends jealous.
As difficult as it may be to stand out in Austin’s culinary scene, particularly with Italian cuisine, Intero does well to stand apart from the competition to offer a delicious and relaxed dining experience.
Nick Bailey is a forward thinking journalist with a well-rounded skill set unafraid to take on topics head on. He now resides in Austin, TX and continues to create content on a daily basis.