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!

As explained to us by waiters wearing blue Italian soccer jersey-like uniforms, the goal of the menu is to pack as much umami flavor into well thought out dishes at the restaurant as possible while using local and/or organic ingredients. For the most part the tastings at the preview event delivered on that promise. The following are dishes we can recommend for your visit to Umami Mia Pizzaria.

The roasted peppers & coppa appetizer with it’s salami, sardines, roasted peppers, parsley, olives, and aioli (all served on toasted bread) was my favorite dish of the night. Complex, full of flavor, yet balanced and not overwhelming, I could eat this all the time. Favorite part of the dish was the roasted peppers.

The Italian salad was equally impressive and composed of pancetta, salami, frisse, arugula, and amazing fresh fried croutons (which are worth ordering the dish for alone). Also, very well balanced – I could eat this every day as well. Unlike many Salami based dishes, it was not too salty.

The mushroom pizza is definitely an umami bomb (which the chef liked to say a lot). Composed of button & cremini mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic & goat cheese, and topped by basalmic reduction. The mushroom pizza is intensely savory and sweet at the same time.

The proscuitto & fig pizza is another well balanced dish. The salty / umami flavor of the prosciutto is balanced by the sweet figs and dressed arugula adds a bit of acid. While not my favorite, many of my fellow diners liked this pizza best.

What would an Italian restaurant be without pasta? Umami Mia’s version of carbonara uses fresh, well cooked noodles mixed with tasty crispy pancetta and pine nuts, all with an egg yolk on top. This dish is light and delicious.

Umami Mia has a very extensive drink menu that draws inspiration from many different cultures – Italian, Mexican, and American (with a hint of Brazilian and Cuban as well). Pictured above are the Bloody Caesar (a very spicy Bloody Mary with Clamato juice) and the Mexican inspired Cucumber Pepino Margarita. Other notable drinks include the Adult Italian Soda, Thyme will Tell, and the Blood Orange Margarita.

Overall, Umami Mia a very promising restaurant and definitely worth checking out. Umami is a definite upgrade over Romeo’s and representative of Austin’s new restaurant scene.

Want to know more? Jump over to Umami Mia’s Facebook page to check out the Umami Mia Pizza – Austin Full Menu