Dining Out With Rob Balon

Check out Dining Out with Rob Balon. Join Rob as he dishes up the best of Longhorn Country.


There's a reason that Roppolo's will move into the sanctified air of our Top 5 Pizza joints in the upcoming Pizza Wars on http://www.diningoutwithrobbalon.com. Marc Roppolo has ramped up his pies to where his restaurant has joined the upper echelon. He has a new, three-level dining emporium on 6th St., and is the perfect spot to grab a bite after the game.

The menu is simple at Roppolo's and I like that. I always say, “Do what you know and do it well.” And man, do they do the Godfather Pizza well. The pizza is huge, and includes sausage, meatballs, pepperoni, beef and bacon. It's a dream for meat lovers. The key is the crust: crisp on the outside, slightly moist and a bit charred on the bottom. The sauce is spot on. This, my friends, is a pizza.

And don't overlook the calzone. This may be the best one in the city. I had one stuffed with sausage, meatballs, pepperoni, mozzarella and ricotta cheese and a sweet red sauce. The calzone totally rocks, as does Roppolo's.


At the site of the former Vin Bistro at 38th and Kerbey Lane, this charming restaurant offers a mixture of baked goods and thoughtfully prepared appetizers and entrées. On my last visit I tried the Shrimp and Salmon Brochette — their version of Shrimp Diablo. I love the garlic marinade with a hint of Serrano pepper. The bruschetta was quite good. They use ciabatta bread, crisped in olive oil and layered with a tapenade of roma tomatoes and kalamata olives. The bruschetta is served with fresh basil, red onions and balsamic vinegar. Yum!

For entrées, we tried the Blackened Salmon Alfredo. This can be an iffy dish if the alfredo sauce gets overwhelming, but the balance worked perfectly. The salmon was expertly blackened and the sauce was delicious. And most importantly, the fettuccini came al dente!

Another strong candidate is the Beef Tenderloin Tips. These are beautifully tender tips simmered in a red wine demi glace reduction and the taste is impeccable. This makes a perfect spot for a before-the-game bite as its minutes from DKR Stadium and the Erwin Center.


They have a new wood fire grill at Outback Steakhouse — the kind that Crocodile Dundee would exult about. It burns oak logs and produces heat that can turn any cut of beef, shellfish or chicken into a mouthwatering delight.

The first thing I tried from this grill was the Tuscan Ribeye. This beautiful steak was marinated in olive oil and fresh herbs, and the searing heat on the grill just lit this cut up. The roasted garlic and sautéed mushrooms were the perfect complements. And please don't overlook the Ribs and Chicken on the Barbie. Outback is known for its Baby Backs and these tender, fall-off-the-bone lovelies, when combined with a grilled chicken breast and Aussie fries, don’t disappoint.

I also like the Steak and Seafood Mixed Grill which combines a top sirloin with seasoned and seared shrimp and scallops. Please also try the new Chicken Artichoke Flatbread. This artisan-style pizza is simply the bomb, topped with grilled chicken, artichokes and fresh spinach.


Tokyo Steakhouse — a locally owned Japanese steak, seafood and sushi emporium — opened at the former Benihana location at Research and Burnet last year. Tokyo Steakhouse offers a new look, and the food is even better than Benihana’s. This is the classic atmosphere of chefs performing feats of dexterity while they chop, slice, and dissect steak, shellfish, chicken and vegetables (let's not forget the classic fried rice) on the grill in front of you. Tokyo Steakhouse offers fun and healthy dining.

And don't overlook the sushi and sashimi. They have a master sushi man at Tokyo who’s capable of slicing a piece of hamachi to the point where it simply melts in your mouth.

Tokyo Steakhouse is appropriate for pre- or postgame celebrations and can accommodate large groups or a table for two. The atmosphere is subdued but the mood is upbeat and fun. The food, along with the show, is absolutely worth the moderate pricing. You can linger or drop in and out at either location (their second restaurant is located at La Frontera Mall in Round Rock). If you liked Benihana, you'll love Tokyo Steakhouse.

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