For the entree I couldn't stay away from the Pasta Carbonara. It contained guanciale instead of the usual pancetta. Very creamy and moist, it was the perfect carbonara. One friend ordered the Mushroom Risotto with asparagus and agrodolce spring onions. The bite I had was very good and I was impressed by the execution of the risotto. Another friend had the Orecchiette with Asti sausage, broccoli rabe, garlic and chile flake which was also quite good. Others tried the Grilled Salmon Salad with romaine, radicchio, fennel, beets, toasted almonds and orange which was a light alternative to the rich pastas. Still others had the pasta of the day which was Mushrooms with Linguine in cream sauce. They seemed very happy with their choice. For dessert we split the Tiramisu with almond brittle and chocolate sauce and the Bittersweet Chocolate 'Cannoli,' which are crispy chocolate shells filled with a rich chocolate mousse. Both desserts were outstanding, the tiramisu being a touch lighter than the very rich cannoli. I could only handle one bite of each (there was no more room). Our very attentive waitperson was very sweet and did not rush us as we waited for the downpour to abate. She even offered plastic bags to protect the birthday gifts from the rain.
Asti, the big sister to Fino, has been around for some time now (nearly 15 years or so) and both are owned and run by Emmett and Lisa Fox. Asti has retained its own identity as a solid neighborhood Italian Trattoria where locals to the hood, and those from further afield, drop in for lunch or dinner. It feels a tad more laid back than Fino, the vibe is a little more casual (could it be the counter and stools?), and it seems to exude that feeling of being comfortable in its own skin. Some good things do come with age. We will continue to revisit this classic Austin spot. (Cathy)