L’Oca d’Oro owners opening pizza joint Bambino in East Austin - Austin American-Statesman

L’Oca d’Oro owners opening pizza joint Bambino in East Austin – Austin American-Statesman


How do you follow up a year in which your restaurant was named the best in the city in the Austin360 Dining Guide? The answer for L’Oca d’Oro co-owners Adam Orman and chef Fiore Tedesco: Open a pizza joint.

The restaurateurs and founding members of Good Work Austin, which has stayed busy feeding at-risk communities and supporting locally owned restaurants since before the pandemic, tell the American-Statesman that they are planning to open Bambino in the spring or summer of 2023 near Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard.

2022 Dining Guide:The best restaurants in Austin

The concept is “a neighborhood pizza joint inspired by the places we both grew up with in the Northeast,” Orman told the Statesman via email, in reference to his upbringing in Pennsylvania and Tedesco’s in eastern New York state.

L’Oca d’Oro is widely known for its handmade pastas, but the Mueller restaurant has experimented at times with pizza over its six-year existence. There were stretches when L’Oca d’Oro served pizze fritte, and a pizza al taglio was on offer at the restaurant’s brunch a few years back.

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So, what kind of pizza can folks expect from Bambino? As Tedesco explained, “how we may want to express ourselves in pizza has been a long running discussion.”

“The more I’ve experimented with different forms, shapes and styles, I have come back to the pies I grew up with,” he continued via email. “Thin and crispy pizza reigns supreme to us both, but with a more pillowy exterior than most of the N.Y.-style stuff out there. I have a real soft spot for grandma pies, and we will have a version of that, but I’m still working through exactly how that will express.”

The partners said they decided on a pizza joint for their second restaurant because the concept is egalitarian and provides an intriguing canvas to express their creativity.

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“We can use beautiful ingredients and make a refined version of the pizza menu that excites us and continue to push the envelope on how we can do more for our employees, but it will still be a pizza joint,” Tedesco said. “I spent so much of my childhood and career working in pizza and had so long tried to avoid it until I found my voice as a chef. Now that I feel confident about that, jumping back into pizza sounds exciting.”

For those who may still not be familiar with L’Oca d’Oro, here’s what we wrote in our 2022 Austin360 Dining Guide that named the restaurant No. 1 in the city:

The pandemic clarified that restaurants are more than places that offer a place to dine or a stylized escape from everyday life. At their best, restaurants beat with the pulse of the community; they strive to make people’s lives richer. And, yes, they put passion, care and personal history into the food coming out of the kitchen. 

L’Oca d’Oro lived up to that ideal during the early days of the pandemic and beyond, picking up on the work they started with advocacy group Good Work Austin, of which restaurant chef-owner Fiore Tedesco and his partner Adam Orman are foundational elements. 

The restaurant organized with other local businesses to continue to feed at-risk families and those experiencing homelessness in the pandemic. In the midst of a historic winter storm in 2021, they mobilized to get meals to the food insecure across the city, partnering with chef José Andrés’ industry-leading World Central Kitchen. 

L’Oca’ d’Oro’s established relationships with local government agencies allowed them to close their dining room for an extended period of time and focus on their community efforts, while protecting their employees and diners. The hiatus from normal operations gave the owners clarity about their role going forward.

“It really put into focus and pushed Adam and me into having conversations about who we wanted to be as operators, who we wanted to be in owning a restaurant — if we were to have the opportunity to reopen, how do we want to be different, how do we want to be better than we were,” Tedesco said. “We wanted to be a more equitable place, we wanted to be a more diverse environment.”

Creating safe spaces, structuring operations to provide a living wage to all employees, and dedicating resources to local organizations that share their belief system are all commendable. Those reasons alone are not  enough to earn a spot atop a list like this. 

That’s where the food, and the pride staff has in it, comes in. Tedesco previously ran out a menu with more than 20 savory dishes. The belt-tightening of the pandemic made him curtail it to about a dozen, and fewer options led to quality in every bite. 

The juicy meatballs have no equal in town. Chicken liver agnolotti, the firm sawtooth pouches swirling in cherry gastrique, tasted like the essence of chicken and was the best pasta dish I ate this year. A tomato salad respected the simple beauty of summer. Start a meal with milky homemade mozzarella that nods to Tedesco’s Neapolitan roots with herb-draped zucchini alla scapece and end it with a thoughtful play on tiramisu. That’s about as well as you can bookend a meal. 

“As we were getting back ready to reopen, I found touch points that got me excited. I found a lot that I was able to attach myself to and get excited about,” Tedesco said. “I love cooking. It’s the truest way I know how to express love for people.”

Message received.

Read the full Austin360 Dining Guide at statesman.com.


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December 20, 2022 at 08:56PM

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