Osteria restaurant, located at 640 North Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA, has been in business since 2007. It’s the brainchild of Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin, and the sister restaurant of the namesake Vetri restaurant, which is also in Philadelphia. Some of you may recognize Marc Vetri of Iron Chef fame, his talent in the kitchen extends beyond any normal palette. So, as you might have already guessed by now, the Food Dudes had to stop at Osteria while on their road trip in The City of Brotherly Love.
It was the night before Damion’s half marathon, where he traditionally likes to “carb out” with pasta and other foods. So, we all bought on the idea that Osteria was the place to be, and we couldn’t have been more sold when everything was said and done. The kicker was Andrew getting recommendations on Twitter from celebrity chefs Aaron Sanchez and Michael Symon who said, “You have to try one of Marc Verti’s places.”
Unlike Vetri restaurant, which has a tasting menu as the sole dining option, Osteria’s menu is more traditional Italian. It contains appetizers, pizza, first and second courses, side dishes, and dessert. All of this might make Osteria seem like just your run of the mill Italian joint, but that’s far from the truth.
Our meal started with a glass of prosecco and a decision between a traditional margherita pizza or the more unique sounding parma pizza. We never thought that prosciutto di parma on a pizza would taste so good, it also came with arugula, fontina and mozzarella cheese. Everything on the pizza mixed well together and had that perfect saltiness from the prosciutto and that light, crispy crust that we all loved. It was an experience to say the least. But it was nothing compared to the main course.
Unfortunately, the main courses that Andrew and I both wanted to order weren’t available, they were pretty popular that night (I wanted a veal entrée, Andrew wanted rabbit). So we both went with black pepper ravioli with peaches and guanciale (pig cheeks) in a brown butter, and Damion had spaghetti with poached calamari. The dish sizes weren’t large, but enough to satisfy our appetite. The ravioli was delicious, especially with the two tastes that the black pepper and the peaches gave off; it had a savory/sweet thing going on.
Dessert was also fantastic, as I ordered a white chocolate lavender mousse with farmer blackberries and honey tuille, which was interesting but sweet. Damion couldn’t go heavy on dessert because of the race, so he went with a sorbet.
Andrew had a chocolate flan, Italian style and more like a lava cake, with pistachio gelato, which he found to be spectacular. Of course, everything was capped off with a single shot of one of the strongest espressos around, which warmed me up on a somewhat cooler night.
Overall, Osteria provided everything we needed in an Italian restaurant. We all walked out full, but not overly stuffed. The prices are reasonable for fine dining, and the food is very satisfying. The restaurant also has a full bar with local beers on tap and an extensive wine selection. So if you’re looking for a good restaurant minutes away from Center City, give Osteria a try. And make sure you make a reservation or arrive early at this busy restaurant, and be sure to stay for dessert!