Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Osteria


Dave's Take:

Marc Vetri turns out incredible food. Osteria is no exception. Take the culinary perfection of Vetri restaurant and throw in a Bistro-style atmosphere and reasonably priced wine list and you get a dynamite place. Of course, like Vetri, it takes forever to get a reservation but you do have an option to eat at the bar or counter by the kitchen which is nice. Now, on to the food. My first course was the salumi plate. All were very tasty and sliced fresh in the middle of the restaurant and most were made in house. The main course was a special of roasted pig. Obviously slow roasted, it was one of the best pork dishes I've ever had. Juicy bit of meat from various cuts, favorably seasoned with a mix of rosemary and other herbs. It came with a few roasted potatoes cubes to soak up some of the juices but they were overshadowed by the tastiness of the pork. I wish it was an everyday item because it was that good and I want to have it again. Then dessert. The waiter suggested the chocolate flan which we weren't that into until he explained that it wasn't the flan we're used to. This was basically a molten chocolate tort. Now were talking. It was very tasty. Nothing too special, but a solid performer. We also got a mascarpone based custard ringed by a shortbread crust, drizzled with a balsamic-rosemary sauce and accompanied by some fresh figs. OK, so it sounds a little weird and I cannot remember the name (I think it was a special) but it was great and was a combination of flavors you might not think would work but went done right, was an adventure. It was a nice change of pace from the normal dessert selection.

I love this place and hope it turns around North Broad. It ain't cheap, but it's worth it. 4 out of 4 rosemary sprigs

Wade's Take:
The paint smells like it is still drying on the walls of Osteria, it’s that new. The menu, however, feels like it’s been around eternally. The flavors of Osteria are done right. The dishes are well-balanced. The service was smooth. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this place has been around for decades. They get it all right.

Que? Yes, that’s right, I liked the place.

I didn’t want to like it. I wanted to believe the Philadelphia hype engine had gotten its hands on this place, too (like the “raved about” Rae and “can’t be beat” Carmine’s, which were somewhat disappointing). I expected snobbery, small plates and out of bound pricing. I got none of them in Osteria. Well, maybe the prices are a tad high.

I had a starter of wood grilled octopus, cured lemon, potato, and chives. Right on. The potatoes were small cubes of soft starch with deep and nutty olive oil overtone. The octopus was grilled with precision and topped with sea salt and lemon. I soaked up every ounce of food and liquid on the plate, using the table bread to my advantage.

My entrée was the rabbit casalinga with sage, pancetta, brown butter and polenta. Word up. I liked it. The trouble with rabbit, as is common with oryctolagus cuniculus, is that it is a bony mess to eat. The pan-fried brown butter goodness made up for the difficulties in getting to the meat.

My only regret? Not ordering one of the pasta entrees. They looked magnificent. Well, I guess I’ll just stop by and give it a try the next time I’m in North Philly looking for a hipster gourmet slightly overpriced meal.

3.5 out of 4, I say.


Jess' Take:

Our anticipation was high for this restaurant – especially because it took us nearly three months to get a reservation – a pretty ridiculous amount of time considering the number of tables the restaurant has. As soon as we walked in and I saw the cured meats, I know we were in Dave and Wade’s own personal heaven. Although our waiter tried to persuade us to order a pizza to begin with, we declined, which in the end would not have been such a bad idea. Instead, we each decided to order our own apps. I began with the grilled veggie plate, which was not on the menu, but apparently something they offer every night. It was simple but tasty and a good start to a fantastic meal. For the main course I ordered the wood grilled halibut with chanterelles, mussels and scallions, which was buttery and full flavored, if not a little small for the price. I happily sopped up what was left with the ample amount of bread that was brought to the table. There was definitely nothing healthy about that course. The highlight for me came with dessert. We decided on two, the chocolate flan with pistachio gelato (of course), which turned out to be a sort of molten chocolaty goodness, and the some crazy dessert with rosemary. I was definitely skeptical about the later, but it was one of the most amazing desserts I’ve ever had. When it was all over (the saddest moment of the night) we found ourselves satisfied but not incredibly full. The waiter was right; pizza would have been a good start. I would happily go back to this restaurant any day. Although, you can bet that I won’t be just “finding” myself in that neighborhood, unless I’m headed to Osteria.

Definitely a 4 out of 4!

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