True Italian In The Neighborhood
The sign on the purple wall announces the daily soup specials for $4.95. Italian Wedding Soup, Spinach & Garlic, Tomato Basil, and Pasta Fagioli, endearingly spelled incorrectly, are the fresh, homemade options for the day. Upon walking through the doors at Cerroni’s Purple Garlic restaurant, you will be greeted warmly, as if you are family, and just arrived for Sunday dinner.
The restaurant is informal and welcoming, and the delicious smell of roasted garlic wafts through the air igniting your hunger, as you try to decide whether to tackle one of their signature pizzas, one of their stellar pasta dishes or one of their outstanding Italian sandwiches. Almost everything at Cerroni’s is made in-house, from their fresh bread and pizza dough to their salad dressings and pasta sauces. Mark Cerroni opened the original Cerroni’s Purple Garlic on Nacogdoches Road nearly thirty years ago, and it has been a favorite neighborhood restaurant on Austin Highway for the past nine years now. It evokes a homey atmosphere, where everyone is welcome, and you can feel how much the staff care for their customers when you hear, “Welcome to Cerroni’s”.
The menu features Italian favorites and Cerroni family recipes that use only the freshest ingredients. Bread is made fresh daily, and start your meal delicious bruschetta appetizers.
You can choose from traditional Tomato & Basil with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar, or Pesto Mushroom made with homemade pesto, sautéed mushrooms, garlic, and parmesan. Their salads are also hearty and a great way to start your meal off right. Moving on to the main course, Cerroni’s offers authentic Italian pizzas, calzones, and Stromboli. One of their most popular pizzas is the Sly Stallone. A meat lover’s fantasy, the Sly is piled with meatballs, sausage, pepperoni, and Italian bacon. The pizzas come in an individual 12-inch size, or can be shared with someone you love and order the 20-inch pizza. The restaurant also offers gluten-free pizzas, made with rice flour dough or their delicious cauliflower crust. Gluten-free pasta is also available.
In the mood for a delicious sandwich for lunch, and you’re tired of the mass-produced, assembly-line sandwiches available on every corner? Then head to Cerroni’s for a true Italian sub. The clear favorite here is the Dean Martin, made with Genoa salami, capocollo, mortadella, provolone, mozzarella, and lettuce, onion, and tomato, served on a homemade roll and slathered with roasted pepper sauce. Cerroni’s makes the kind of Italian subs and hoagies that Tony Soprano would have been proud of, and they also cater for business meetings and social events, so you can feed your entire mob great Italian specialties that won’t rob you blind.
Now let’s talk pasta. Cerroni’s offers some of the best traditional pasta dishes in town. Everything is made fresh to order and even the meatballs are homemade. From Fettuccini Alfredo to Chicken Parmigiana, they have a pasta that suits your mood and satisfies your palate.
One of the most popular dishes on the menu is the Penne Pesto, tossed with spicy Italian sausage, Roma tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and Cerroni’s own zesty pesto sauce. It has just the right amount of spice to keep it interesting and sets the perfect table to segue into dessert.
For the picky eaters, and those who just like to be in control, Cerroni’s also offers a “build your own pasta” option. Choose from several different kinds of pasta, add a sauce of your choice and add up to four fresh ingredients and with protein to finish off your meal. To complete the perfect meal, try one of Cerroni’s housemade desserts.
Their cannolis will transport you to a sidewalk trattoria in Sicily, and their carrot cakes, bread puddings, and tiramisu will leave you very happy to have become a part of the Cerroni’s family.
The restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner, except for Sundays, and you can dine inside the purple walls, or out on their spacious patio, while the little ones play in the sandbox. Cerroni’s is a true family restaurant and there is something for everyone. Mangia!
By Meredith Kay
Photography by Al Rendon