This will be a long one, but a dinner like this deserves it. My fiance and I made Valentine's Day reservations for Osteria back in January, right before the Philly Mag article came out naming Osteria #1. I don't put much stake in those rankings, but it was encouraging nonetheless. After our Valentine's Day dinner, I can definitely confirm that the ranking was deserved. Because there was so much on the menu we wanted to try, we decided to split 5 courses.
The first course was one of the evening's specials. It was a big chunk of house made buffala mozzarella served with crostini toasted in the wood burning oven and topped with sauteed swiss chard. The mozzarella was quite good and paired well with the bitterness of the swiss chard. The crostini gave a nice hint of smokiness, as well.
Our second course was the lombarda pizza that was simply phenomenal. The pizza has a great crsipy, thin crust and was topped with a hint of red sauce, bitto cheese, house made sausage, and a fried egg in the middle. We didn't want to stuff ourselves, so we had half wrapped up for lunch the next day. It was just as good on day two.
Our third, and favorite course, was the candele pasta with wild boar bolognese. This dish had a great, unique flavor and certainly highlighted the kitchen's ability to use simple preparations with high quality ingredients to make a stellar dish. The bolognese had a great, thick texture that adhered to the long tubes of tender pasta very well. We will definitely be ordering this one again.
The fourth course was their version of cassoulet, house made black pepper sauage and braised pork ribs served over a bed of creamy polenta and cabbage. The braised pork fell right off the bone. The dish was great, and I think we would have enjoyed it even more if we weren't starting to get full by this point.
For dessert, we had the chocolate and goat cheese "fritelle" served with a side of tangerine curd for dipping. These were served warm and almost had the consistency of beignets. The goat cheese and chocolate combo worked really well and even though I don't normally like mixing fruit and chocolate, the tangerine curd added some nice flavor.
If we hadn't ordered drinks, our bill would have been less than $100 before taxes and tip, and we certainly didn't go home hungry. However, we did have drinks, which pushed the bill significantly higher. I started off with a martini and my fiance had a wine spritzer that was their take on sangria, which was quite good. I believe it had a base of red wine, with club soda and blood orange juice. We also took advantage of the well versed sommelier who helped us decode the wine list consisting entirely of Italian wines. He steered us toward the big, bold wines we prefer and suggested a wide range of bottles priced from $34 to $160. We settled on the one that he stated was his favorite for $100, which is quite pricey, but was great. I also need to mention our server, Paul, who was very engaging and attentive. It's always great to have a server who is truly excited about the food the the kitchen is creating. He definitely made the meal that much more enjoyable.
In closing, I have to say that the meal was definitely worth the price and that this experience has cemented Osteria as one of our favorites and as a place we will definitely be frequenting more often in the future. I know this was a long one, but some meals deserve this treatment!
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