Austin restaurant all-stars grind out New England-inspired pizza shop

Austinites who believe our strange town is dearth of wonderfully weird fusion restaurants have reason to check out the newest pizzeria and sandwich shop from the owners of District Kitchen + Cocktails and Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar.

The restaurateur brothers Amir and Ali Hajimaleki, known for their contemporary take on pub food, brunch and craft cocktails, are going in a new direction with their latest concept. Shortie’s, a New England Greek-style pizza and mill joint, opens December 16 in the Shoal Creek neighborhood.

Shortie’s starts at 7858 Shoal Creek Blvd. in the room where Be More Pacific used to be. The goal is to combine northeast-inspired recipes with Texan ingredients to create pizzas and sandwiches with an Austin focus.

While it sounds like a “pie-in-the-sky” idea, diners can expect the same attention to detail and emphasis on local ingredients that the Hajimaleki brothers bring to their other restaurant concepts. To make the menu accessible to the Austin’s palate, the brothers translate traditional Greek-style New England pizza – characterized by lots of oregano and a thick crust cooked in a greased pan – into shorties signature pizzas made from ingredients from the Locally made like Barton Springs Mill, heirloom wheat and Texas olive oil are made and cooked in a cast iron pan to create irresistibly crispy edges.

The pizza specialties include the Twig & Branch (olive oil from Texas, rocket, goat cheese from Texas, ham, tinned sour cherries and umami chili oil), the Punisher (red sauce, homemade spicy Italian sausage, pickled cherry peppers and balsamic vinegar, roasted onions) and the vegan Little Chef (red sauce, onions, eggplant, roasted balsamic onions, fennel and garlic-olive oil). Homemade pizzas are also offered.

Another highlight of the menu: 10 hot and cold grinders on French bread, including the Shortie’s Club sandwich (turkey breast, Black Forest ham, bacon and provolone cheese) and the appropriately named Big Sexy (braised beef rib on the bone, tomato red) wine ragout, green pepper and provolone cheese).

The menu is rounded off by the Umami Meatball starters, an Antonelli cheese and sausage board, roasted vegetables from Johnson’s Backyard Garden and Italian-inspired desserts (hello, oreo tiramisu!) Created by the head pastry chef Dennis Van. Craft beers are on offer on tap, as are Italian, Greek, and Texan wine favorites and low-proof cocktails. Bottles of wine and take-away cocktails are also available.

No stranger to the idea that food and family make the best pairings, the Hajimaleki brothers took inspiration from some of their beloved loved ones for Shortie’s. The restaurant’s name pays homage to Ali Hajimaleki’s beloved deceased puppy (who is depicted in a mural on site and looks very elegant). The menu concept was influenced by Amir Hajimaleki’s fiancé, who is from Connecticut and has a lifelong passion for New England mills and pizza.

Shortie’s is the newest restaurant owned by the Hajimaleki brothers who had several other concepts in the works before the pandemic. These openings will likely have to wait until 2021.

Shortie’s is open for dinner and take away on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 4pm to 9pm and on Fridays from 4pm to 10pm. Dining tables are 6 feet apart, masks are required for diners who are not seated, and the restaurant follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

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