- By Matthew Odam American-Statesman Staff
Two Austin heavyweights who may not have the public profile (yet) of some of their peers are teaming to help revamp an Austin staple of the last dozen years.
Chef Adam Brick and advanced sommelier Paul Ozbirn are joining Hyde Park favorite Vino Vino as partners of co-founder Kelly Bell. The restaurant will close temporarily from Nov. 12-14 for minor renovations and officially reopen Nov. 17 with a new menu from head chef Brick and a new wine program from Ozbirn, who most recently served as the beverage director of Parkside Projects (Parkside, Bullfight, Olive & June, etc.). In addition to the new menus, the team has added custom banquettes and new tables to the dining area while retaining the original dark walnut bar and reclaimed flooring.
Brick, who recently announced his departure from Apis Restaurant and Apiary in Spicewood, is a native Austinite and alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park who worked in the kitchens of esteemed New York restaurants Daniel, Aureole and Momofuku Ssäm Bar before returning home. Before helming Parkside’s program, Ozbirn worked at fine dining restaurants Wink and Paggi House.
Brick plans to implement a three-course menu on weekends starting in 2018, with the cuisine built around classic wine regions from around the world.
“We aren’t turning our backs on the wine bar mentality. We’re just intensifying how and what Vino Vino has always done, which is to serve delicious food that tells a story” Brick says. “A wine bar that has been focused on Old World, small production, family-owned estates should have a kitchen rooted in tradition and technique.”
Ozbirn’s list will focus heavily on Old World wines, which the duo says should pair well with Brick’s cuisine — what the chef says will focus on “classic technique above trends and modernism.”
Regulars will still see familiar faces as the Vino Vino team comprising Joe Zych, Alex Roberts and John Tallent remains on board.
“I am extremely excited to have two of the most talented and highly respected professionals in the Austin restaurant community join the Vino Vino family. With Paul, we have taken the next step as a wine destination while also remaining part of the Hyde Park neighborhood scene,” says Bell, who opened Vino Vino in 2006 with partner Jeff Courington. “What can I say about Adam Brick? He’s got it all: young, very smart, and over-the-top talented.
The sweat started beading on my forehead early Sunday afternoon. I don’t know if it was the humidity, the brisket or the overwhelming challenge of trying more than two dozen of the state’s best barbecue restaurants as named by Texas Monthly. The magazine held its eighth annual festival at the Long Center, and I maneuvered by way among the giddy, wobbly masses, many donning Houston Astros gear, to sample myriad smoked meats, from burnt end boudin courtesy of Bodacious Bar-B-Que of Longview to Danish baby back ribs from dessert-inclined Tejas Chocolate + BBQ of Tomball. My favorite plate on that day of gluttony? A trio of sausages from Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew that included beef, duck-and-pork and hot chicken. Visit austin360.com/thefeed for photos and a bigger recap.
South Austin has a new barbecue option. Slab BBQ opened at 7101 Texas 71 at the Y in Oak Hill. The restaurant is the second location of the barbecue sandwich specialists that originally opened on Research Boulevard in 2014 after starting business as a food truck in 2006.
Better Half, the all-day restaurant from the owners of East Austin coffee-and-beer bar The Brew & Brew , announced today that Rich Riembolt will serve as executive chef. Riembolt will come to Better Half after about five years with the McGuire Moorman Hospitality group. The Idaho native and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America opened the revamped Jeffrey’s in 2013 and served as its lead sous chef for two years and has spent the past two years working as the chef de cuisine at Josephine House. While no menu has been released, Better Half, which will be located at 1203 W. Fifth Street (at Walsh Street) just west of Lamar Boulevard, will be an ingredient-focused and Texas-inspired all-day cafe. Owners say the menu will reflect the kind of food they love from years of eating around Texas.
In addition to Riembolt, Better Half also announced that general manager Mark Stowe will be running the front of house. Stowe’s career in the service industry includes time as a manager at Jester King Brewery and working as the food and beverage director at Violet Crown Cinema. He also worked on the opening teams at Brew & Brew and Pinthouse Pizza.
As they eye an early 2018 opening of their second location, Home Slice Pizza will forego its annual Carnival O’ Pizza. But the restaurant has come up with a way to amp up its community support during the month of November. Home Slice Pizza on South Congress will open its dining room for dinner each Tuesday of November, a day which the restaurant is traditionally closed, and donate a portion of proceeds to SAFE Austin (Nov. 7), CASA of Travis County (Nov. 14), Urban Roots (Nov. 21) and No Kid Hungry (Nov. 28). The longtime community staple is branding the series of fundraising dinners “DOUGHvember.”
While the carnival won’t be happening, the team still has plans for family-friendly activities each of the nights, along with a raffle (purchase tickets for $10 at the restaurant) for a chance to win free pizza for a year. The raffle money will go to the one of the four charities the winning participant writes on his or her ticket in advance.
Owners say they plan to open their location at 501 E. 53rd St. sometime in winter 2018. As previously reported, the new location in North Loop will have a full bar, more parking, serve Sicilian and New York-style pies, Buffalo wings and more. Check out Home Slice’s Facebook page for more information on DOUGHvember and the forthcoming location.