Dovetail Pizza: Where Austin Casual Vibes Meet Culinary Delights for the Whole Family
Learn about this Bouldin Creek family-friendly restaurant focused on good food and good times
When I heard that some of my favorite Austin chefs and restaurateurs had collaborated to open a restaurant, my ears perked up and my mouth started watering. Veterans from Lenoir, Swedish Hill, Salt & Time, G’Raj Mahal and Rosen’s Bagels joined forces to open Dovetail Pizza in late 2022. With all that talent under one roof, I couldn’t wait to see what they’d created together.
Located at the corner of South First and Mary, Dovetail’s Bouldin Creek site has seen a lot of turnover. Most recently, the low-slung building housed G’Raj Mahal’s Mumtaz Market, and prior to that N’Esperado Barbecue, Alcomar Seafood, and El Chile Tex-Mex. For four decades until 2012, it was home to the iconic El Reyna Mexican restaurant.
But now the space has been refreshed with warm earth tones, natural wood touches, polished concrete floors and subtle green shiplap walls. It feels light and airy, with walls of windows framing the buzzing street scene, a shaded patio and an eight-stool bar anchoring the dining room. Artwork includes pieces by locals Elizabeth Chiles, Jules Buck Jones, Cheyenne Weaver and Ft. Lonesome.
A collaboration of industry friends
The genesis of Dovetail’s name is a woodworking term for pieces fitting together seamlessly to form a whole — and the restaurant takes inspiration from its team and their goals for this project. Most of Dovetail’s partners are longtime friends or work associates, so the restaurant has been a reunion of sorts, with this group of industry friends coming together to recreate childhood food memories, but elevated for their current adult tastes. Their vision stemmed from a desire to create a place they’d all enjoy and want to hang out.
Pizza is a hybrid of Neapolitan and NY styles
In that spirit, the menu is a comforting, family-friendly selection of pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and salads. It offers a touch of nostalgic childhood favorites elevated by mature global influences, so the food feels modern and fresh, instead of traditional and tired. Pizza is the star of the show at Dovetail, and it’s excellent. A hybrid of Neapolitan and NY styles, it’s inspired by the oblong tavern-style pizza that Chef Todd Duplechan (Lenoir) grew up eating at Campisi’s in Dallas. Hand-stretched into an oval, the slow-fermented dough results in a crispy crust and tender center. The tomato sauce, made with Phoenix pizza wizard Chris Bianco’s DiNapoli tomatoes, has the perfect balance of brightness. And all the toppings are top quality, from the mozzarella cheese to the cup-style pepperoni.
In addition to familiar flavors, Dovetail offers some adventurous pies like the popular Bitter- Sweet pizza topped with kale, eggplant and sweet and hot peppers. There’s also a Cacio e Pepe pizza topped with grilled artichokes, shallots, snap peas, black pepper and Pecorino cheese, and a beef pizza topped with prime rib, ricotta cream, caramelized onions, Fresno chilis and arugula. Instead of the ubiquitous shakers of grated parmesan and red pepper flakes on the table, Dovetail offers deliciously unorthodox pizza condiments like a homemade smoked chili crisp oil and a citrusy-herbaceous chimichurri sauce for drizzling on your slice.
Don’t miss the classic pastas, salads and sandwiches
In addition to pizza, Dovetail serves up classic pastas like spaghetti — served with one gigantic meatball — and cheesy chicken or eggplant parm. At lunchtime, there are two-handed sandwiches piled high on fresh-baked ciabatta. The Italian is stuffed with Salt & Time charcuterie like mortadella, coppa and pepperoni, and there are also veggie, meatball, and chicken or eggplant parm sandwiches. Salads are entrée-sized and gorgeous with offerings like the Wedge, Caesar or Honeycrisp with mixed greens, grapes, apples, lardons, pistachios, smoked provolone and honey mustard.
For starters, the fried olives are a popular shar- able snack for the table. But I prefer the baked ricotta or the smoked eggplant. The spreadable ricotta arrives bubbling in a warm ramekin and is served with a side of chutney to cut the richness of the cheese. The smoked eggplant is a tasty mash-up of multiple cultures. Chewy-crunchy Navajo fry bread serves as a base for a thick layer of smoked eggplant, crunchy veg, arugula and grated Mimolette cheese. There’s also fried calamari and the always-stellar Salt & Time meat board. Wash it all down with something cold from the full bar, which features Mediterranean-inspired cocktails, plus a creative wine and beer list.
Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, the energy at Dovetail shifts throughout the day and week. At weekday lunches, things are chill and quiet, with mellow 80s tunes lilting in the background. At night, things kicks into gear with lively neighborhood crowds of families enjoying dinner or friends having nightcaps. On weekends, brunch is a festive scene with Aperol spritzes flowing alongside breakfast pizza and bagels with lox.
Dovetail is a neighborhood pizza joint worthy of a destination. Its talented group of industry friends have created a friendly, casual place to enjoy refreshingly novel takes on beloved comfort foods. All that talent under one roof sounded impossibly delicious. But at Dovetail, it’s obvious they fit together quite well.