Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Osteria : Philadelphia

Osteria has probably been the Philadelphia restaurant that I've been wanting to try for the longest time. Philadining's old review of Osteria was the first Philadephian food blog post that I came upon, when I moved here nearly two years ago. Needless to say, I had pretty high expectations for this place.

After seeing so new American restaurants that go for a uber-sleek, modern & minimalist feel, it's nice to Osteria veer towards a more warm and inviting aesthetic. Large windows, hard-wood floors with varnished wood tables give it an atmosphere that would be as accepted in the woods of New Hampshire as in Philadelphia.

My gf and I ended up going here fairly early on a Thursday evening. It was interesting to see the restaurant populate with customers (seemingly coming after work) throughout the night.

Lombarda pizza - baked egg, bitto cheese, mozzarella and cotechino sausage (cured in house). The baked egg seemed too intriguing to pass up. It was quite lovely. In particular the cheeses gave the pizza a particularly wonderful and sophisticated flavor. The crust is thin, but not overly crunchy (some thin-crusts tend to be more like crackers than pizza) and not overly blackened. There are nice touches of parsley and oregano.

Now, I hate to burst any bubbles here. When I first mentioned to my friend that his favorite food network host, Giada De Laurentiis, had a disproportionately large head, that statement ruined the show for him, since he couldn't stop staring at her head afterwards. And I fear my next statement may ruin some people's enjoyment of Osteria's Lombarda pizza. So if necessary, skip the next paragraph.


So, my gf and I came to the conclusion that the pizza tasted like an upscale sausage, egg and cheese McMuffin. And once we observed that, we could not go back. Certainly it was tasty and complex and with a gooey egg yolk, how could you go wrong? But that familiar egg/cheese/sausage flavor combination, it was damn hard to not think of the first time you've had that combination in McDonalds. And there it was, the uber-ubiquitous multi-billion dollar restaurant chain had somehow wormed their marketing presence into one of the more renowned restaurants of Philadelphia.

Pig special - roasted all day with salt and pepper rub. I was a little bit disappointed with this, perhaps because my primary expectation for roasted pork is indulgent, juicy pork meat that has been constantly marinated in its own oily, greasy fat. And this was not the case here; the meat almost tasted healthy and it lacked a strong pork taste. Instead the primary flavor was salt (followed by other seasonings).

As for desserts, my gf was leaning towards just going to Capegiro, but when I'm trying out a restaurant for the first time, I'm always curious to see whether they can prepare a complete meal, from appetizer to dessert, well or not. So I managed to convince her to stay.

Coppa gelati e sorbetti del giorno - GF chose the 3 gelatos of the day - Pistachio, chestnut and cranberry. They had a nice sophisticated creamy taste, which was very nice, but I believe that the flavor of the ingredients (pistachio, chestnut, cranberry) should be the primary flavor and this was not the case. If I had my way, you'd have the ingredient-forward flavor found in Capegiro's gelato with this nice creamy aftertaste.

Cannolli with torrone semifreddo, candied fruit and creme anglaise - I was kind of disappointed. Flavor-wise, this was okay. But texture-wise, particularly with the cannolli, it tasted as if it had just been waiting in a fridge. (Why else would the outside of the cannolli shell be cool? I think I've gotten too used to shops which fill their cannolli's when you order.

I don't know, perhaps I was hyping up this place a little too much in my head or perhaps we'll have to visit again and try other dishes, but I ended up being a bit disappointed with Osteria. The lombarda pizza was good, no doubt. I loved the atmosphere and the service was also friendly as well. But the pork and particularly the desserts were just not out of the ordinary.

640 N Broad St Philadelphia, PA 19130 (Map)
(215) 763-0920
www.osteriaphilly.com | Yelp | Chow


  1. We had the same reaction when we were there last summer - I mean, I didn't think it was possible for this place to be another Vetri (does lightening ever strike twice), and I don't think it was meant to be. That being said, we kinda felt a little 'eh after being here. Your pictures turned out great, though!

  2. the cannoli shell was cool because it was filled with a semi freddo ("half-frozen"). I'm a big fan of this place and feel it's the closest thing to a casual european restaurant. great wine and beer selection too

  3. Wow. This is definitely a great place for our Philadelphia dating getaway! Thanks for sharing! The pizza really looks yummy! LOL