Photos by Joe Olivieri
Restaurant seeks to ‘cater to the masses’
Dean Bontempo understands how people may get the wrong idea about Neworld Cafe.
“It’s a full-blown restaurant behind the scenes,” he said. “But in the front, people say, ‘Oh, it’s just a sandwich shop.’ I wish! It’s a lot of work [to run the restaurant] at the caliber we have.”
Owners Bontempo and Laura Canales opened Neworld Cafe in October 2010 with a simple goal: “cater to the masses.” They packed their menu with a variety of popular staples—filling sandwiches, hearty soups and fresh salads—that grace lunch menus throughout the nation.
The difference, Bontempo said, is the work that goes into those favorites.
“I worked in [a sandwich shop] in high school,” he said. “[In general,] you get everything out and throw it into [the prep area in front of the counter]. Slice the meats, maybe, and that’s it.”
Instead, Bontempo, Canales and their team spend hours in preparation for the day’s diners.
“We make everything: our meatballs, pastas, coleslaws, chicken salads, everything,” he said.
The couple made it a priority to serve a variety of food. The restaurant allows customers to fully customize their burgers and sandwiches.
“If you specialized and just made, say, burgers—you can make a ton of money on burgers in this town, and many people do—then people just go to you for burgers,” he said. “If you have a variety, someone can get a burger. Someone else can have a salad or another sandwich. We have a half-soup, half-sandwich combination that sells well. There’s something for everyone.”
Located on Far West Boulevard, Neworld Cafe has become popular in its diverse North Central Austin neighborhood, he said, adding that the owners know 70 percent of their customers by name.
“We’ve received a warm welcome from our neighbors in Northwest Hills,” he said. “We have a pretty good mix. We have a good lunch crowd Monday through Friday. We get the business people, the residents and the seniors. The area’s very mixed.”
The restaurant has large windows, high ceilings and tall plants, which gives it a bright and airy quality during the day, Bontemp said. Takeout is popular at night, he said.
The couple enjoys running an independent restaurant. Canales worked for Chili’s for 15 years. Bontempo has managed Tex-Mex restaurant Maudie’s on South Lamar Boulevard, Austin sushi restaurant Uchi and downtown venue The Belmont.
He had also partnered with his brother, Greg Bontempo, who co-owns the NeWorld Deli on Guadalupe Street.
Since opening Neworld Cafe, there has never been a dull moment, Bontempo said.
“The first two years of owning a business has had a lot of blood, sweat and tears, as they say,” he said. “But things are looking good now.”
Signature and popular sandwiches
- Reuben—Corned beef or pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing ($7.50)
- The “Jersey” sloppy Joe—Turkey, ham, roast beef or a combination of meats served with Swiss cheese, cole slaw and Russian dressing ($7.50)
- Grill-pressed Cuban—Smoked ham, slow-roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard ($7.50)
- French Dip—Roast beef and provolone cheese with au jus for dipping ($7.50)
- Deluxe chicken sandwich—Chicken breast, avocado, bacon, melted Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on a honey wheat bun ($7.99)
- Turkey club—Double-decker on wheat with roasted turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise ($7.50)
Soups, salads and other options
On a daily basis, the restaurant offers a rotating selection of soups of the day.
- Mixed green salad–Mixed greens, carrots, tomatoes, red onion and cucumbers ($4.95)
- Greek salad—Mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, red peppers, crumbled feta cheese and Kalamata olives ($6.75)
- Chef salad—Mixed greens, roasted turkey, smoked ham and Swiss cheese ($7.25)
- Grilled chicken salad—Mixed green salad topped with grilled chicken ($7.25)
- Curried chicken plate—Mixed greens topped with curried chicken salad ($7.25)
- Calvin’s Favorite—Spinach, grilled chicken, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, walnuts and feta cheese ($8.50)
Neworld Cafe, 3742 Far West Blvd., 340-1404, www.neworldcafe.com
- Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.,
- Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.,
- Sun. Closed