I set out to find the most authentic Italian eateries in Austin. A few Yelp reviews later, I was convinced that I had found the right place—Quattro Gatti. A small, family-run business in the heart of downtown, Quattro Gatti brings a little slice of Italy to the capital of Texas.
Gianfranco Mastrangelo is the restaurant’s founder and owner. Born into an Italian, food-loving family, Mastrangelo quickly discovered a passion for cooking. He grew up surrounded by Italian cuisine and working in his family’s trattoria in New York City.
“I started out doing a lot of baking,” Mastrangelo says. “I don’t eat desserts that often, but I really do enjoy making them.”
Mastrangelo’s now spends most of his time recreating the perfect Neapolitan pizza.
The “pizza margherita” is the most basic form and only calls for three simple ingredients—tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.
“You really have to have a passion for it,” Mastrangelo says. “It’s an art that takes lots of time, care, and attention to detail.”
Mastrangelo’s work doesn’t stop when the restaurant’s doors close for the day. He spends much of his free time thinking of ways to improve his dough.
“I remember when I made my first batch of bread—it sparked a passion in me,” he says. “I just wanted to continue practicing and improving.”
Quattro Gatti prides themselves on their light, fluffy dough. Although his recipe is constantly changing, the pizza remains one of the most popular items on the menu. The focaccia is also a crowd favorite. Served along with each meal, customers say that it is the perfect combination of chewy and crispy.
Aside from pizza, the restaurant also serves fish, meat, and pasta. Papardelle, lasagna, and gnocchi are made in-house, while cheeses, prosciutto, and tomatoes are imported straight from Italy. An impressive wine list fills the back page of the menu and includes both Italian and American selections.
While it’s not an easy business, Mastrangelo says that running the restaurant is more than just a career—it’s a way of life. He is determined to keep true Italian culture alive through his cooking and baking.
“It’s so important to follow your passions and to do something you truly enjoy,” he says. “The hard work is always worth it.”