Writing by Bo Duncan
Photography by Lauren Ussery and Adrienne Dever
You’ve no doubt heard the buzz about Juliet, Austin’s newest restaurant serving modern Italian cuisine on Barton Springs. The name alone is catchy and intriguing, just like the atmosphere of the patio and interior. It’s the perfect place for a long, lingering meal or a quick-stop happy hour – neither will disappoint.
The individual talents of each person involved contribute to the complete package that makes Juliet what it is. Collaborations between Joel Mozersky and Christian Helms on the interior design and leatherwork give the dining space a beautiful sense of place, while the collaboration between executive chef, Asti Trattoria’s Jacob Weaver, and Easy Tiger pastry veteran Carly Rossmeissl completes the experience. Juliet deserves all its recent accolades – it truly may be the best new Italian restaurant in Austin.
“We have 270 seats to fill, so this is not just a place to get a cocktail – it’s a hybrid of a drinks lounge and an outstanding place to dine at leisure all night.”
The space itself is most welcoming, with a gated patio lined with greenery winding around the navy blue and white al fresco bar. The relaxed vibe of 1960’s Italian modernism is intentional, as the space is meant to recall “Vespas and Sophia Loren.” Mozersky’s design includes Geoponte brass lights from that era, and elements from artist Pierra Fonaceli, including the very wallpaper he had in his own living room in Milan. While even bathrooms themselves are something to behold all on their own, the design of the place is just the beginning. A stroll up to the bar reveals the theme continued in the drink menu, from Amaros to comeback spritzers.
Executive Chef Jacob Weaver brings his expertise in both volume and creativity from Whole Foods to intimate fine dining as the executive chef at Asti Trattoria. And at Juliet, he uses his experience from both.
Weaver’s instinct was to go with a modern Italian menu — elevated, elegant, approachable cuisine. Another impetus for choosing a modern approach over a rustic one was to separate the eatery from other emerging Italian spots around town.
Weaver and Chef de Cuisine Brandon Fuller put the menu together after spending just one evening in the kitchen together at Fuller’s previous restaurant, Café Josie. “We have a similar palate and mindset on how to run a kitchen,” he says.
The chefs are proud of the pizzas – especially for their focaccia-like crust, which Weaver calls “the bones.” There’s a pizza renaissance in Austin right now, he says, and the goal was to compete with the Detroiter at 313 and the Tallegio pizza from Bufalina. It all comes down to the crust: light, fluffy and tender—soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and thicker in the middle.
“We like the unexpected, not-so-classic presentation.”
“A lot of my inspiration was in making things that Texans are used to, like Snapper, in a nouveau Italian way,” Weaver says. He wants guests to feel the ingredients are somewhat familiar, but keeps them guessing at the same time. The sauce on the corn fritters, for example, is a goat cheese aioli, but it’s originally based on a ranch dressing recipe chock full of fresh herbs and black pepper.
Juliet’s team is also quite proud of its Arcobaleno, an American-made pasta maker churning out artisan noodles and sheets of semolina like a PlayDoh factory. Behind the scenes, there’s even a woman whose only job is to make pasta – nothing else – 40 hours a week.
For dessert, Juliet has “the queen of dough,” Carly Rossmeissl, making all the pastries and breads. That title was earned during her time spent at one of the city’s most famous bakeries, Easy Tiger.
As for the bar, the menu is heavy with aromatized wines, liquors and Italian specialties like grappa, Campari, special vermouths and Amaros. The Negroni Tasting is a best-seller, featuring many of these. The happy hour menu is very popular thanks to its half-off rosés, $7 cocktails, and wine and food specials every day from 3 to 7 pm. The beverage director, Robert Millican of Firehouse Lounge, is excited about the food-and-wine pairings in particular.
Put Juliet on your list for an Italian fix anytime. Its happy hour gives you a taste of its fabulous dinner menu, and lunch and brunch are both expected soon. At brunch, we’re told to expect large-format bottles like Magnums and Jeroboams of rosé.
Tip: If you’re really into wine, Juliet is the place to be. They have a Coravin, a special cork-injection device that extracts wine from an unopened bottle, allowing guests to try any wine before making the investment on a glass.
Writing: Bo Duncan
Photography: Lauren Ussery and Adrienne Dever
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