New Austin Restaurant Alert: Umami Mia Pizzeria on Barton Springs

Since it’s closing in 2012, Austinites have been curious about what restaurant would replace the long standing Romeo’s (which opened in 1993) on Barton Springs at Jessie Street (near Zilker Park). As of this weekend, the long wait is over!

The new restaurant at 1500 Barton Springs Rd, Umami Mia Pizzaria (also Italian), offers a much more modern and casual take on Italian food than Romeo’s did. Gone is the dark cave-like decor, piano, and mediocre food of the old restaurant. Instead Umami Mia offers a bright, hip, colorful decor inspired by the Rome subway line. The food has also improved remarkably and the extensive drink list offers creative cocktails that you wouldn’t expect to find in an Italian joint.

We were invited to preview the new menu this week, and we’re happy to share our favorites with you!

Click through to preview the dishes from Umami Mia in Austin, Texas

The State of Ramen Shops in Austin, Texas

What is Ramen anyways? It doesn’t always come in cheap packs from the grocery store?
Japanese Ramen has it’s origins in the Chinese noodles 拉面 “La-Mian” which literally means pulled noodles (see this picture of this guy the Chinese version). In fact, in Japan Ramen is still sometimes called Chinese style noodles. Somewhere along the way, The Japanese took the Chinese import and morphed it into something all their own.

How is authentic ramen different from instant ramen?
Real ramen broth has a depth of flavor not present in the instant form, which relies on salt and MSG to enhance taste. Good ramen derives it’s flavor from boiling a combination of animal bones and vegetables for a long time to give the broth a richness that that can’t be replicated otherwise. Much in the same way that Texas BBQ meat tastes magical when exposed to slow and low heat, the same is true of soup broth. Good ramen when done right, is a time intensive labor of love (just like great TX BBQ). Good ramen also comes garnished with all sorts of fresh, delicious things as well that complement the broth.

Simply put, great ramen can blow your mind.

For an in depth explanation about Japanese Ramen culture and the different styles of Ramen, David Chang and Anthony Bourdain dedicate 20 minutes to the subject in the awesome series “The Mind of A Chef” (bonus @ 8:45 for learning how the noodles are made in a factory from a man in a bright red wrestling style mask)

There’s also this great how to make ramen article on Serious Eats.

Read more about the state of Ramen Noodles in Austin after the jump