Carmelo's is one of our favorite local Italian Restaurants. See videos below of their tableside cooking as well.
A Historic and Succulent Dining Experience
by Christy Wink
When one steps in to Carmelo’s Ristorante on 5th, they are not just dining at a restaurant, they’re enjoying an experience. It begins as you walk into the charming courtyard – dappled with trees and overflowing with eye-catching decor and appeal. From that moment, the white Texas stone walls engulf and transport you out of busy downtown Austin and into another world completely. You find yourself in a timeless Italian bistro, where everything you see, hear, smell and taste is engineered to wrap you up and sweep you away in a wave of gastronomical bliss.
Part of the charm comes from the building itself, which is a historically preserved landmark. Recorded on the National Register as the Old Depot Hotel, the building served as a train depot from as early as 1872, accommodating stagecoach and railroad passengers. The property was renovated in 1964, and the current kitchen and dining room represent the additions made to the building. Carmelo Mauro opened his restaurant in the Old Depot Hotel in 1985, and transformed it into a romantic hot spot full of old-world enchantment.
Your journey continues as you’re seated in the cozy dining room, taking in the soft, seductive accordion music, the enticing aromas from the kitchen and the mouth-watering descriptions on the menu. Your wait staff offers selections from the restaurant’s inspired wine menu and you start the daunting task of narrowing down your menu choices for the night. While the angel hair pasta with black truffle cream sauce sounds sinful and the Pacific swordfish with eggplant and crab meat sounds heavenly, it’s hard to resist the call of Steak Diane cooked tableside. It’s about this time you start to realize the caliber of culinary expertise involved in the creation of these dishes. However, if you know anything of the owner it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Sicilian native Carmelo started his training at a young age, beginning his career as a bellhop in the hotel industry and eventually making his way up to general manager. He moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where he entered into an apprenticeship, and then on to England, Switzerland, Africa, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, all the while picking up his trade as a chef and learning the languages, customs, and flavors of the world around him. His extensive experience working in restaurants and hotels across the globe gave him the knowledge and the ability to start his own business and create an award-winning menu that focused on the authentic dishes of his homeland.
Carmelo opened his first location in the Memorial area of Houston, Texas in 1981, where he quickly found success and the ability to open his second, equally successful location here in Austin. He prides himself on the use of authentic Italian products in the preparation of his cuisine, and for such he was awarded the Seal of “Ospitalita Italiana” from the Italian Government. He is an active member of the community, both in Austin and in Houston, his city of residence. He was awarded “Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year” in 2001 by the National Restaurant Association and has been recognized by the Austin Chamber of Commerce for his “Commitment to Community.”
So with a full stomach and a satisfied smile on your face, your empty dinner plate is whisked away and you realize with joy that this is not yet the end of your experience. The dessert list is nothing short of decadent, and it is the shining star at the end of a lovely night. As you tuck in to your sweet ending, you truly come to understand the difference between simply dining out, and having a dining experience.
504 E 5th St
Austin, TX 78701-3726