Younes Halabi’s passion for pizza runs so deep, he built a pizza oven in his backyard.
After traveling and tasting his way through Europe, he decided it was time to turn his passion for pizza into something the Central Texas community could enjoy with him.
“This has been an idea of mine for a long time, and when this location opened up, I knew it was the right time,” said Halabi, 51, about opening Vino Pizza with his brother and business partner Sam Halabi, 49. “People don’t have to drive to Austin for good pizza anymore.”
The intimate space, modeled after European hole-in-the wall eateries, seats up to 28 people. Diners can either sit at a table or pull up a stool to sip wine and share a slice of their brick-oven, thin-crust creations.
“We wanted to do something different, because you can pretty much get the same pizza everywhere you go here,” Sam Halabi said. “Our pizza is all about fresh and high-quality ingredients and all of them are unique.”
The brothers, who both came to the U.S. from Syria in the 1980s, have been in the food industry for 20 years and learned a thing or two during their ventures.
“Sometimes we broke even, sometimes we ended up ahead, but we learned something every time,” Younes Halabi said. “We are not perfect and we try our best to do things right. We are focusing on great food and service, so people can come in and have a nice dining experience, day or night.”
With pizza at the heart of the restaurant, their most popular pizzas are “The Village Butcher” — Italian sausage, smoked ham, pepperoni, salami, red onion and roasted red peppers — and “The Florence,” which is a white pizza topped with fresh arugula.
“I really like how authentic it is and the different toppings,” said Cassie Ward, who dined with her husband, Rocky, and their two children, Trent, 9, and Jaylen, 11. All gave the pizza two thumbs up. “You can’t find this pizza anywhere, but here.”
Vino Pizza has 10 varieties of beer and the wine list features Italian wines, but William Browning, general manager, said he is working with local wineries to expand their offerings.
The Halabi brothers followed the keep-it-simple philosophy throughout the restaurant, including a small, easy-to-read menu with a handful of appetizers, salads, pizzas and paninis ranging in price from $7 to $12.
“Some menus are like reading a magazine,” Younes Halabi said. “Our focus is pizza and wine, and we left room to expand our offerings.”