Oh. My. God. Milano makes me want to sing and dance, with both Sami and Giki Demi (the owners). This was one of those unexpected "OMFG" finds, which I sorely needed. I had a bad case of the Mondays. The MOTHER of all Mondays. Milano Café showed that Monday who was boss.
I brought my friend (former Austinite now NYer) and a bottle of Reisling to check out Milano Cafe. The decor of this location is just too cute. It is chic, but not pretentious. With the table lay out (cushy arm chairs and large low tables), you get a laid back lounge feel. If Milano Café had wi-fi, my expanding buttocks would be parked there every day. My friend ordered a panini, and I ordered the spanakopita (spinach puff pastry), beef and chicken milanos (meat and veggies wrapped with puff pastry all for $4), and an Alfredo pizza (white sauce with chicken for $8.99). Because my pizza was coming out late, Giki wanted to try other dishes they had - that was the Ablanezze pizza and salad.
The decently sized spanakopita and milanos were puffy and flaky, but not at all greasy. I liked all three that I tried: beef, spinach, and the chicken with sundried tomatoes. Mmm…. puff pastry goodness! The salad wasn’t anything to blink at either. Piled high on a large dinner plate, it was fresh, colorful, generously layered with feta cheese, and lightly coated with dressing. No dressing drowning casualties here. This healthful salad was perfectly proportioned and delightful on the eyes.
As much as I liked the milanos, spanakopita, and salad, the pizzas really stole the show. The Alfredo pizza was piping hot with an incredibly crispy thin crust. The chicken was flavorful, tender, and juicy white breast meat. Paired with the sauce and a glass of Reisling, I was in heaven. I can't quite put my finger on why the chicken was so tender. Just try it. You'll be speechless like me. This is one of the best pizzas I’ve had in Austin.
Next pizza up is the Ablanezze pizza, which deserves its own paragraph. This pizza is topped with Albanian sausage (beef and lamb) which is smoked for 25 days. Yes, you heard me. 25 days. That's nearly a month being smoked. When you smoke a sausage for 25 days, it's called passion, and that passion is out of this world tasty! If you like pepperoni, you’ll LOVE this pizza. It tastes like gourmet pepperoni, but it is sausage. It has the same salty and spicy flavor, but goodness knows it is not cheap pepperoni. I brought the left over pizza home for the SSO, and he said, "I want to marry this pizza." If I'm going to be left for a food item, I'm glad it was the Ablanezze pizza.
Let’s move on to the sampling of desserts: Frutti Di Bosco, Kadaif, and Tiramisu. The Fruitti Di Bosco is a fruit tart with layered with a smooth creamy custard and fresh berries . The fruit is a glazed with a mixture of fine grain vanilla French flour,. It is amazingly smooth, just a hint of sweetness, and it had a flowery aroma. Yum! The Kadaif can be conceptualized as a baklava type of dessert with angel hair pastry instead of sheets of phyllo dough. It looks somewhat like a big piece of shredded wheat sitting in a sweet nutty syrup. If you like baklava, you’ll like this fun-to-nibble angel hair pastry. Last dessert up is the Tiramisu, to which Sami pats his belly and says, “It’s Good!” It is not. It is DANG good! The cream is light and smooth, not too heavy like a marscapone tiramisu. The lady fingers are cake-y and moist, and perfectly soaked in coffee. I love tiramisu, and this one didn’t put me into a food coma. I heart it. I heart it. I HEART it! Oh, and let me make note that I resisted 65 plus cupcakes in my fridge over the weekend, but I did not resist the tiramisu. I attacked it with full force. I also had it for breakfast on Tuesday morning. Good thing I went to Crossfit. My hips will thank me.
After spending nearly three hours eating myself into oblivion, I learned a few things about Milano Café. Hopefully the details aren’t too fuzzy. That may happen after three glasses of Reisling. Sami and Giki Demi brought these recipes with them as they moved around Europe. I can’t pinpoint their accent, but it is charming and unique. They took little bits of different cultures with them and created these fabulous dishes. The cook, whose name escapes me now, was brought in from Manhattan. He gave me a blank stare when I asked how he prepares the dishes. Apparently, I’m not supposed to know certain techniques.
After Sami found out that I bake (no, I’m not a professional pastry chef.), he was eager to show me the ingredients that make their food stand out. Ask to see the French Flour. The flour doesn’t seem to have a gritty taste when raw. Sami uses it on the Frutti Di Bosco, and the fresh berries seem to be just ever so slightly glazed. This aromatic flour has such a wonderful vanilla and floral aroma that I’m pondering getting some for my own baked goods. The Albanian 25 day smoked sausage is quite pricey, and only two places in the United States make it. I won’t give out all their secrets, but I will urge you to try it. You may never go back to Italian sausage, pepperoni, or Canadian bacon.
Milano Café is still BYOB, so bring a bottle of bubbly. Sami and Giki will bring some wine glasses with a smile.Milano Cafe is at 4601 Southwest Pkwy Austin, TX 78735 (512) 428-6076, just off of Mopac in South Austin.