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Judges crown North Austin restaurant the winner of 7th Annual Taste of North Austin

North Italia Risotto Ball
The judges awarded North Italia first prize after trying the arancini stuffed with mushrooms and scamorza cheese. Photo by Jane Ko
Taste of North Austin at The Domain
Eaters lined up at The Domain to taste offerings from over twenty North Austin restaurants. Photo by Meredith Bethune
Zed's Tuna Poke
The tuna poke from Zed's Restaurant impressed the judges enough to win third place. Photo by Meredith Bethune
 Blue Baker submitted a brownie with chocolate icing for judging. Photo by Meredith Bethune
Judges Taste of North Austin
The judges were local food critic Rob Balon, CultureMap contributor Meredith Bethune, Associate Editor of Austin Food Magazine Hayden Walker, and local blogger Jane Ko of A Taste of Koko. Photo by Jane Ko
North Italia Risotto Ball
Taste of North Austin at The Domain
Zed's Tuna Poke
Judges Taste of North Austin

Despite the steamy temps, hungry eaters flocked to The Domain on Saturday, June 21 to sample menu items from 20 North Austin restaurants. Sipping sangria, the crowd danced to raucous cover songs by local band Skyrocket! while enjoying bites from area bistros.

Lauren Krumlauf, area director of marketing for Simon Property Group, was once again pleased with the turnout. "This year’s event was bigger and better than ever as we hosted area favorites as well as restaurants new to the center and to the expanding North Austin dining scene," she said. "In hosting this event each year, our goal is to provide our shoppers, residents and visitors with a ‘taste’ of what Austin and our community partners are all about."

I was thrilled to represent CultureMap as a judge along with local restaurant critic Rob Balon, local food blogger Jane Ko of A Taste of Koko and Hayden Walker of Austin Food Magazine. We each tasted and evaluated more than 20 submissions based on presentation, execution, taste, creativity and overall appeal.

The judges ultimately selected The Domain’s own North Italia as the winner. The restaurant presented a crispy arancini, or fried risotto ball, filled with scarmoza cheese and mushrooms on a bed of fennel-scented tomato sauce. Urban: An American Grill took second prize (an improvement from last year’s third place showing) with a crostini topped with house-smoked salmon. The judges selected Zed’s tuna poke for third place.

The crowd clearly had more of a sweet tooth than the judges, though. They selected cookies from Tiff’s Treats and mini lemon and white chocolate raspberry cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes for first and second place for crowd favorite, respectively. Third place in the crowd favorite category went to The League Kitchen & Tavern with the curried chicken salad sliders and bacon-wrapped shrimp sausage.

According to Krumlauf, the shopping center is the ideal place to hold such an event, "With all of the fantastic dining options offered at our center and in North Austin, we feel that The Domain is the perfect setting to bring all of the delicious flavors and fun activities together."

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