Mandola’s is an Austin based Italian restaurant and grocery chain. The owners have a rich history of working in Italian restaurants. These restaurants were mostly based in Houston. Once they moved to Austin they decided to start their own business to bring great Italian food and culture to the area.
It was pretty fun for me to go to Mandola’s. In some ways it reminded me of the Mercato Centrale Firence, a very well known market in Florence, Italy. The market had two floors, one with vendors for grocery items to take away and prepare yourself. And the second floor had prepared food. Although Mandola’s is not as big it had a similar concept. They had grocery items that you could choose from, or you could choose a prepared meal.
We went to Mandola’s for dinner because they have a gluten free menu. I ordered the gluten free chicken alfredo. Behind pesto alfredo is probably my favorite pasta sauce. And for some weird reason I never seem to go to restaurants that have pesto pastas on their menu. Mandola’s itself is not 100% gluten free. But after being in Italy and knowing the care the Italians take in preparing food, going to a restaurant with such a connection and appreciation for the culture made me not worry. That may not be the best mindset for me to have, but I feel like a restaurant like Mandola’s is better than chain Italian restaurants.
Despite that, I got pretty nervous when our food came out. My family member I was with got regular chicken alfredo and the gentleman that brought our food out questioned which was which. Thankfully he went back to the kitchen and figured it out. This was one of those times I wished I had my Nima sensor. But of course it was a day I forgot it. I was very lucky and they correctly differentiated the pastas. I was not glutened.
The food itself was pretty good. Having been to Italy, I am kind of sad because Italian food here is never as good. But compared to Italian chain restaurants the food tasted better. The pasta was fresh and the noodles were good. I was definitely happy with the choice to go to this restaurant. The best part, the portion size was so big I took home leftovers for the next day!
Cafe and Patisserie
At Mandola’s they have a full cafe and patisserie. At the location I visited this was separate from where you order your food. They have a full menu of coffee and espresso drinks from the cafe. Unfortunately I did not try any because we had dinner here. I would have been up all night had I enjoyed one of their drinks. They also have many options for pastry items such as cannolis. I did not look too closely, but I imagine none of these are gluten free and if they are might not be Celiac safe. But if you have friends or family with you they could enjoy some of the fun treats!
But my favorite part, was of course the gelato. One, because most gelatos are gluten free. If you have never had gelato, go find a gelato shop right now. Preferably in Italy, but anywhere would really work. I would be lying to you if I said I did not eat gelato every single day when I was in Italy. Also a couple of those days I ate more than one gelato. It’s great to say the least.
But Mandola’s has house made gelato. The one thing when ordering gelato is you have to tell them not to give you a waffle slice. Even if you get it in a cup it is pretty normal that they put a waffle cone wedge in the gelato. So do remember that when getting gelato at a gelateria. I scarfed my gelato down so quickly, I now can’t remember what flavors I got. I do remember it was delicious. And if you have kids that order off the kids menu they receive a scoop of gelato in the price of their meal.
All in all I had a great time at Mandola’s. The food was good, and the environment was fun. And best of all I did not get glutened at any point during my visit. Obviously every Celiac is different and has different comfort zones. But I do imagine I will go back to this restaurant and enjoy the good food again.