Saturday Dinner at Osteria
My mother was in town for the Christmas Holiday, so my wife and I took her to one of our favorites, Osteria, for dinner on Saturday. As usual, I was quite happy with our meal and thought I would give a report.
We started off with the salumi platter and the "special" vegetable antipasti (it seems like it's always available, so why call it a special?) This was very good, and one of our favorites among the meats and veggies was the cabbage that had been braised with pork fat. It had the most amazing flavor. We also tried another special, which was fresh mozzarella over radicchio and grilled sourdough. The mozzarella was very flavorful and had a very delicate consistency unlike the heartier buffala mozz we usually see.
Next, we split a lombarda pizza with bitto cheese, house made coteghino sausage, and a runny egg in the middle. We've ordered this many times, and it was good as always. I noticed that this time that char on the bottom of the crust was nearly perfect and it held up better than usual to the weight and the runny egg.
The next course consisted of three 1/2 orders of pasta. The wild hare ragu over papperdelle was my favorite as it was just the perfect, homey dish for the rainy night we were experiencing. There was just enough gaminess and flavor to let you know you were eating game without being over the top enough to put off non game lovers. It was another example of what Osteria does best: simple, quality ingredients prepared flawlessly. We also had the robiola francobolli, which are small cheese raviolis served with mushrooms and a light, thyme and butter sauce. This is among our favorite dishes and we always seem to order it. The third pasta was a goat cheese gnocchi with mushrooms and truffles (I think). These were probably among the lightest gnocchi I have had yet still had enough potato flavor so you didn't forget what you were eating.
We finished the savory part of the meal by splitting an order of their (almost always a special) spit roasted pig with oven roasted potatoes. The pig was very juicy and packed with herby flavor. Among the three cuts we received (rib, shoulder, and leg), the darker and moister leg meat was my favorite. And since I have heard that others have been turned off by the potatoes, I will just add my two cents that they were prepared perfectly and very flavorful.
For dessert, we ordered one of our favorites, the polenta budino. This is a sweet polenta with hazelnut mousse and candied hazelnuts. I can not say enough about this dessert, it is just amazing. We also had the chocolate cappuccino cake, which was, surprisingly, our only disappointment. It just seemed a little dry and bland, however, this may be a result of it being compared to the other highlights of the meal. Additionally, since our great server Paul realized that it was a bit of a special night having my mother in from out of town, he presented us with a few extra desserts to sample. We had a chestnut crepe dessert, which was a perfect seasonal dish and packed with buttery flavor. We also had a selection of gelatos, and among them, the pistachio, blood orange, and cappuccino were the stand outs.
I can not say enough about the staff at Osteria, especially our waiter, Paul, and sommelier, Aaron (sp?). Both took great care of us, as did the front of house. I have always been a fan of Osteria, and will continue to go back because of experiences like this past Saturday.
640 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Absolutely second your comments on budina di polenta. I'm not much of a dessert guy, but that one really stood out.
Right now, Osteria is our favorite restaurant in Phila. I'm a big fan of that real-simple-but-real-good school spearheaded by Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich (and now her son Joe). I have yet to try the spit roasted pig, but my chance will come.