Austin Culinary school students are in for a bit of a treat. Plans have recently been reported for two popular, Dallas-based restaurants to expand and open new locations in a development on the north side of the city. Both of the restaurants are owned by Lombardi Family Concepts, one of the premiere restaurant and hospitality groups in Dallas, according to the Austin Eater. The eateries will be situated in an area known as The Domain, a high end strip mall just north of central Austin. The expansion also comes at a point of change in creative leadership for Lombardi Family Concepts, as D Magazine has reported that Avner Samuel has recently been hired on by the group as a menu consultant.
Taverna will be opening a second franchise in Austin. Lombardi Family Concepts’ flagship Italian venture, Taverna?, already has locations in Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, and has made a name for itself through adhering to traditional Italian standards. Offering risotto as their signature dish, the staff at Taverna use only carnaroli rice in the style of true, old-fashioned Italian cooking. The restaurant has also become quite renowned for its brunch, which was voted the No.1 brunch overall in Austin in the 2010 FAVE awards and played an integral role in earning the restaurant a ZAGAT rating. Having already experienced considerable success in several markets including Austin, it’s hard to imagine that this new Taverna location will have any trouble getting off the ground quickly.
Toulouse Cafe and Bar
Also coming to The Domain in Austin will be Toulouse, a cafe and bar that focuses on delivering French cuisine with a Belgian influence. A ZAGAT rated restaurant, the establishment has been consistently held as an upper tier eatery and was rated among the best French restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by renowned restaurant critic Leslie Brenner. The menu ranges from dishes such as frog legs to mussels and steak frites, and changes seasonally to include the freshest ingredients possible for an optimal dining experience. The restaurant also features a lavish wine menu that includes a broad range of libations, ensuring diners can find something to pair perfectly with any order.
Samuel comes to Lombardi Family Concepts in the midst of not only this expansion to Austin, but also during a far broader period of growth. According to D Magazine, the hospitality group is working on opening new locations and expanding current restaurants in Houston, Plano and Fort Worth. Toulouse Cafe and Bar will be moving to the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, while Taverna will be opening another branch in Fort Worth. Samuel has been heavily involved in the reimagining of menu offerings (and, consequently, the heightened success) of several restaurants in Texas, including Snackwho, Aurora and Nosh Euro Bistro. While the duties he will take on in his newest role aren’t explicitly clear yet, it’s reasonable to assume that his influence will be noticeable on the menus of all of these establishments moving forward.