I am sitting outside on a beautiful two-tiered decked sandwiched between two space heaters on a mild, Austin evening and notice something really cool. There’s foot traffic on West 6th Street! I’m talking west of Lamar and it’s all because Chris Horne and his fabulous team built a welcomed addition to the Clarksville neighborhood called Winflo Osteria. Build it and they will come could be Horne’s mantra. He’s no stranger to the hospitality business with four, successful watering holes including Kung Fu Saloon and Brew Exchange in Austin and another two Kung Fu Saloons in Houston and Dallas.
Winflo is the creation of Horne and partners Michael Ryan Dickson, Megan Dickson-Pennington and Chef John Pennington. With the right family in place it made sense for this collaboration to roll out an Italian restaurant. The space is quaint and intimate, it’s a bungalow dating back to 1922. This family (and friend) run business is done in true Osteria-style, a place serving wine and simple food in a comfortable setting. The name Winflo pays homage to the Clarksville neighborhood as it in located at West 6th and Winflo.
The relaxing, open dining room feels as if you are at a family’s home and an inviting bar greets you upon entry with a peek inside the open kitchen. The interior, comfortable yet stylish, was done by Jamie Chioco of Chioco Design. The original hard woods are exposed and the wallpaper and flooring was stripped down to reveal beautiful, original hardwood floors and walls.
Chef Pennington’s background is in pizza making, he came from Southside Flying Pizza, where they are known for their hand-tossed dough. The wine list is exclusively Italian and beautifully composed. The wines on the list mirror those from other regions outside of Italy. Horne let me in that you can get a great Cabernet or Malbec from Italy. I ordered a wine from the island of Sardinia rarely found on restaurant menus, the Sella & Mosca, Cannanou Reserva. Italian wines are known as food wines and it complimented the meal perfectly. The classic, Italian cocktails, made with freshly squeezed juice, are also not to be missed. My friends ordered blood orange margaritas, try the Italian Mojito and the Pink Vespa Martini too.
What sets them apart, aside from the great decor and setting, is the oak-fired, brick pizza oven reaching the temperature of 900 degrees turning out true pizzas done to the specifications of classic Neapolitan tradition. The specialties pies where tempting, yet we ordered the Immagiazione where you choose your own toppings. We had ours made with red sauce, artichoke hearts, balsamic onion marmalade and fresh mozzarella, yum! While the pizzas are king, go there for other Italian specialties including Spaghetti con le Cozze, a dish with PEI mussels, capers, anchovies, tomatoes and white wine. Don’t miss dessert, also done by multitalented Chef Pennington. We fought over the last bite of the chocolate cheesecake. Note to self, order your own.
Unique to the restaurant is an underground, private dining space, called the Listening Room at Winflo, that will also play host as a music venue. Seating just 50 lucky few, it will offer intimate dinner and show series featuring national acts. Horne and his crew definitely have the recipe for success and Winflo Osteria is just another delicious example.