Osteria v. 13th Street Stroll
I am working on a plan for my birthday coming up next month, and have narrowed it down to two ideas. Since I love an interesting cocktail and my S.O. could care less, my birthday is my only chance to go to Hop Sing with full support, so the night will end there.
As for the prelude, I am down to two ideas:
1. Osteria. I haven't been there in a couple of years and we cancelled our annual trip to Vetri this year due to stomach space constraints. So this seemed like a good substitute.
2. I thought it might be fun to wander up 13th Street and stop in a number of places for an app or a small plate type thing at each. So we could hit Jamonera, Zavino, Sampan (I am craving bao buns badly), and perhaps Barbuzzo and get a bite of something at each. There would likely either be 2 or 4 of us, so I'm not thinking that it would be a horrendous idea, but even in small numbers I could see logistics/crowds/etc turning this idea into much less fun in execution than it is in concept.
They are both great options. I did something similar to your 13th St. stroll for my birthday last summer. We started at Vedge (which has great cocktails and some good happy hour plates), then went to Jamonera and ended at Barbuzzo (had to have budino for dessart). It was all very easy and really fun. There were only two of us, though, and it was a summer weeknight. I could imagine the logistics being more challenging on a weekend, and with a larger group.
If you do it I would break it up into cocktail/appetizer, main course, and dessert. Zavino doesnt take reservations, so you are at liberty of the crowds. I might do Jamonera appetizer, Zavino pizza or pasta, and then consider Capogiro for dessert. You might be able to squeeze Sampan in as well Barbuzzo is so crowded that you are going ot have a hard time going in there for just a little unless its late at night. I personally would go there for dessert for budino but only if its after 10pm. This will be a lot easier if its not a friday or saturday.
Osteria is great.. I like to get 2apps and either a pasta or pizza there. Pastas can be in half portions so you dont have to worry about having eat huge amounts. Its nice but you are not going to get the fun of the progressive dinner.
I think for the progressive dinner to be successful you need to start early (5pm, ). and ideally on a weekday.
My vote would be for the 13th street crawl. Excellent suggestions forwarded. We love Barbuzzo small plates and with an long standing reservation will get there this evening before the Kimmel Center. I must be the only person here underwhelmed by Osteria it is a very nice venue with ok service and an interesting menu. We must have just picked the wrong items as we both thought they were all, with the exception of the dessert, just average.
1. I prefer Osteria to Vetri anyway, I was at Osteria a few months ago and it was as good as ever.
2. It depends what day of the week this is, on a weekend night your 13th St. crawl will be much more difficult thanks to the crowds. I'd suggest adding Vedge to it, it's only a couple blocks away, and maybe lowering your expectations of getting in to *all* of those places on the same night. I also had a pretty good meal at The Corner recently, it's just north of Barbuzzo on the same side of 13th St. but doesn't get nearly as crowded as a lot of the other places on that block. It's not super-fantastic or anything but if you try your crawl and are having trouble finding space to sit down at Barbuzzo and Lolita, I'd consider a bite at the Corner.
Personally, I'd vote for #1, especially if this is a weekend night. The thought of trying to pop into the bar at Barbuzzo at 8 pm on a Saturday doesn't sound like fun.
Sorry, I meant Barbuzzo and Jamonera there. Lolita obviously doesn't have a bar to sit at and just get one dish.
Time is another place that's right there and while it's not in the same league as the other places you're looking at, the bar is very nice and I've had some good bar snacks and beers there.
Thanks for everyone's insights. This is very helpful.
Also, thanks for the alternative suggestions of The Corner and Vedge (I also love Capogiro, but being mildly lactose intolerant and with an acutely lactose intolerant S.O., it is just an ongoing tease as we walk by!)
My strategy to keep it lower-stress would be to have 5-6 places in mind with a goal of getting to maybe 3 (incredible that you wouldn't need to stretch more than a block or two to get to 6), this way there would be no frustration if we get shut out somewhere (or several somewheres). I am expecting it would be a Friday or Saturday and we wouldn't be getting out till around 7:00 given current life craziness, so even feeling nice and flexible it still may be setting up for failure.
It's a very pleasant deliberation in the meantime.
Just wanted to report back quickly.
We ended up at Osteria, and were really happy.
They started with a pesto bread that was extraordinary. Of all my bread experiences (and they are many - I am Dr. Atkins' worst nightmare), this was very likely the best.
We also had a grilled vegetable antipasto plate, and cotechino sausage over polenta as starters. Both very good.
Then we had bottarga pasta, chicken liver rigatoni, and a pasta special which was stuffed with braised salsify. We enjoyed them all quite a bit, but among them I understand the love for the chicken liver rigatoni. It is certainly one of the best pasta dishes in the city, and one that I will return for.
I was quite stuffed, but also thought I had to try the polenta budino. Like the rigatoni, better than advertised. By no means attractive, but 10x more deliicious than it looks. Osteria certainly has not suffered from the expanding Vetri emprie. It has actually improved significantly since my last visit (which was a couple of years ago, and pre Amis and Alla Spina).