Thursday, August 11, 2005


Craig O's

I'll be honest. The only reason I ended up finding out about Craig O's Pizza & Pastaria was that it was so close to work, no one could miss it. Literally across the street (er... freeway), we were all so happy when it opened, as it breathed some fresh air into our previously-stagnating set of nearby lunch options (Sawadee Thailand has now done that again, to a much greater extent.... same with Galaxy Cafe). It was like we were all trapped in Hell, where Hell was eating of the same thing day in and day out. Well... I should pick my words with care. It really wasn't Hell.

The food. Admittedly, it's nothing special (with the highly notable exception of the garlic bread). Pizza? It's okay. Pasta? It's good. Doable for sure. I'm sick of talking about the average-ish things here... let's get straight to the good parts:

- Several vegetarian options: pizza, as usual, works. The pastas have a choice of sauce, etc.. There are also sandwiches, salad, and antipasti (appetizers).

- Ok. I can't stress this enough. Sawadee Thailand has some of this as well: INSANELY friendly ownership! All I know is, if the owner guy (Craig himself?) is there, I'm happy for the rest of the day. That in itself seemingly bumps up the quality of the food.. (more reason not to do the delivery).. The guy is so nice... remembering names... asking about my day, etc.. Maybe I'm just easy.. Just easily amused by people.. Either that or Craig is... not a person?

- This is also a local Austin business (depending on whether you believe the last sentence). So you'll be keeping your money in town, most likely.

This week I ordered the Penne with Marinara sauce. No, this marinara sauce does NOT contain anchovy or anything else nonvegetarian. Oh yeah. That's another thing. Craig knows which things are veg and which things are not. None of the "it's vegetarian, and there are bacon bits in it" revelations you hear at think tanks like Black Eye Pee. Whoops my spelling's a bit off today.

Anyway... right.. The garlic bread, always a bonus with the pasta, was exceptional. I was so sad to see it finish. The pasta was ok. I did not get a chance to get it blessed by Craig. It was a nice hot meal nevertheless, though I admit I was craving a bit more food at the end (this probably wouldn't have happened had I ordered one of the cheesier selections).

As for other items I've tried there, I seem to remember the Baked Spinach Ziti being decent. The pizza, though I don't think is anything really special, it still a step beyond the standard chain pizza places. I mustn't forget about the focaccia bread. That's pretty good, with parmesan baked on the top of it... cheese oils (nothing excessive) seeping in and everything. Oh yeah baby. Highly useful for scooping up sauce from the pasta. Not as awesome as the garlic bread, but still.

So here's the plan. If you're in the area, and you want a .. healthy uplifting experience, combined with sufficient-quality food, make sure Craig is in the house and hop over there. OR, if you're anywhere else, and someone wants to go to Olive Garden, tell them "Ok", but take them here instead.

I like Craig O's okay, too. I'm no pizza fanatic, but I would rate their pizza above average. And I couldn't agree more about choosing this place over some chain like Olive Garden. In my opinion, local is always better - food and service wise.

Oh yeah, they have cold beer, too, so if you're out on a hot summer afternoon, it's not a bad place to stop and cool off.
Yeah, to me, Craig O's. is ok. Not the best Italian pizza/pasta, but by no means the worst. But they're close, friendly, and have good bread.

I must admit, something in me wants them to do well. It's kind of like rooting for the Cubs, though. I have a soft spot for underdog home teams. (My family is from Chicago.)
I also like that they support my son's elementary school by selecting one day a month and donating 10% of their total gross to it. It just reinforces that they are a locally owned business, reinvesting in the local community. You can't beat that!
Just to let you know Craig opened another spot in Northern Austin. Located on Balcones off of Mopac (Loop1 to visitors) and 2222.
It's right across from Randall's. We (workers in the nearby buildings) were extremely excited to have a new place to eat. Not many people deliver anymore and if you know the area, you know you have to drive anywhere to get some decent food. Craig O's is more than decent food and a nice cozy place to sit and relax for an hour.
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