Authentic Italian food is hard to find in Austin so when I came across a new restaurant called Il Brutto, located on the East side, less than a mile away from the KK headquarters, I knew we had to check it out. After hearing many great things about this new spot, I connected with the team over there to learn more about their new summer drinks, happy hour, DIY lemoncello, and the background on their Italian executive chef. Here’s a look into a new #KKeats favorite Italian restaurant.
About Erind Halilaj: Executive Chef, Il Brutto + La Matta
Raised in Italy, Erind Halilaj learned the meaning of quality service at a young age. After receiving a degree in economics and tourism services management, Halilaj pursued his passion as chef de partie of Hotel Principe di Savoia, a 5-star hotel in Milan. There, he discovered an affinity for traditional Italian cuisine using simple, fresh ingredients. Halilaj worked at several hotels and restaurants in Italy, including as executive chef of private club Canottieri Restaurant in Terni, before an opportunity with JW Marriott brought him to Florida in 2014. Once in the states, it wasn’t long before Halilaj decided to make the move to New York City, where he became executive chef at Obicà Mozzarella Bar in the Flatiron District. In his first year, he was promoted to corporate chef for Obicà. In 2017, Halilaj joined the New Waterloo team as Executive Chef of Il Brutto & La Matta, the former a neighborhood Italian restaurant and the latter an Italian sandwich shop.
Il Brutto’s Limoncello Recipe by Charity Sadoy
1 liter overproof vodka
1 liter simple syrup
1. Peel the lemons, avoiding the pith as much as possible. Less white on the peels is better to avoid bitterness.
2. Place the lemon peels in a glass jar. Add the vodka. (Juice the naked lemons and make lemonade! We use the lemon juice in cocktails and in the kitchen on salads.)
4. Let the jar sit for a minimum of 4 weeks in an area that stays cool and dark. We steep ours for 8 weeks minimum.
5. Strain off the lemon peels.
6. In a separate container, mix equal parts granulated sugar and boiling water. Once all the sugar is dissolved, add your infused vodka.
7. Cool in refrigerator until no longer hot. Move to freezer for storage and serve in chilled glasses.
- Il Brutto is open everyday for Dinner and Brunch on the weekends. You can grab lunch at their sandwich shop next door called La Matta which has great mozzarella, Italian meats, homemade bread for sandwiches, and light salads.
- All pastas are handmade (gluten free available upon request) and pizzas are cooked in the imported Neapolitan wood-burning brick oven by Chef Erind Halilaj who grew up in Italy.