Leaf: Ital­ian Chopped Salad

419 W. Sec­ond St. 474-5323, www.leaf­salad.com.

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & DRINK - — M.O.

Un­for­tu­nately, we can’t all pack up our bags on a whim and jet off to Italy (OK, Lit­tle Italy) for sum­mer vacation. But we can stop in at Leaf in the Sec­ond Street District for an Ital­ian Chopped Salad ($9.99). This min­i­mal­ist salad place takes al­most ev­ery bit of gas­tro­nom­i­cal plea­sure that we as­so­ci­ate with Italy and throws it in a bowl. It’s ba­si­cally a de­con­structed Ital­ian hoagie with­out the carb guilt (al­though a piece of herbed fo­cac­cia on the side is tempt­ing). Served in a rus­tic bowl, the fresh spring mix is topped with pig at its finest — salty salami and pro­sciutto. Hard­boiled eggs and pro­volone cheese add to the soft chewi­ness, though the snap of pine nuts, crunch of red onion and dense, lay­ered ar­ti­choke hearts keep the salad’s tex­ture from be­com­ing one over­sat­u­rated Pavarotti note. Cherry toma­toes and pep­per­oncini pro­vide tart and pi­quant tang, and the chopped basil pro­vides a cool sen­sa­tion. The Ital­ian Chopped is one of a dozen sal­ads de­vised by the folks at Leaf. But those who don’t like be­ing told how to dress or top their sal­ads should fear not. Leaf of­fers cus­tomers a chance to cus­tom­ize their sal­ads, and with more than 50 top­pings, dress­ings, cheeses, nuts and pro­teins, the com­bi­na­tions are al­most end­less.

James Brosher pho­tos

Jor­dan Feiner owns Leaf, the Sec­ond Street District res­tau­rant that spe­cial­izes in sal­ads. One that’s hard to pass up is the Ital­ian Chopped Salad, with cured meats, pro­volone, hard­boiled egg and other in­gre­di­ents atop spring-mix greens.

If you’d like to cus­tom­ize your salad, Leaf’s Feiner is happy to oblige. Cus­tomers have 50 in­gre­di­ents from which to choose.

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