Chef Giovanni Cocciante has moved downtown. He has relocated Andiamo from Rutland Drive to 5th Street and Congress and renamed his restaurant "Bellissimo." I had heard good things, so I had to see for myself.
The restaurant is next door to Kenichi on 5th Street...in the old "Noodle-ism" building. They don't yet have their liquor license, so it is currently BYOB. There are autographed photos from Presidents and athletes. Chef says the late Ladybird used to dine with him once a week before she passed.
We began the evening with a shaved fennel salad topped with toasted walnuts and goat cheese and dressed with truffle oil. It was balanced and fresh. A great first course.
Next came giant sea scallops, sauteed in a brown butter and dressed with artichoke hearts. They were rich and buttery with a slight breadcrumb crust. Perfect.
At this point, Chef came out to check on our satisfaction with the meal. He brought with him a freshly made Zabaglione for us to taste. (yum!)
When we confessed we were having trouble making our decisions on entrees, he asked us what we were in the mood for. She said pasta and I said veal. Chef told us he was going to make us each a dish.
My veal was AMAZING! Chef Giovanni took porcini mushrooms, sauteed them in a brandy cream sauce and served them with tender scallopini veal. The result was an earthy, rich, fork-tender dish served with sweet buttered carrots and steamed green beans. Incredible!
My lovely date had housemade fettucine served with prawns, scallops and lobster claw meat in a saffron cream sauce. You could see the strands of saffron in the sauce! No skimping on this expensive herb. It was fantastic.
For dessert we shared lemon gelato and homemade tiramisu. Chef came to sit with us and offered free digestifs as we enjoyed our desserts. While I marveled over the tiramisu, he explained to me the process of creating this complicated dessert. Along with selecting the ideal bean and perfecting the brewing process for the espresso in which to dip the ladyfingers, he also hand whips the marscapone with egg whites to create a towering, fluffy masterpiece. It has been years since I have had real italian tiramisu. This is it.
In the end, Chef Giovanni and his wife Miriam work hard to make you feel like family. The service is five-star. Chef runs a tight ship. His customers and their experience are most important.
I encourage all Chowhounds to visit Ristorante Bellissimo and see if it doesn't become one of your Austin favorites!