Osteria's menu is in a constant state of flow, with dishes being added and subtracted from the repertoire according to the seasons and the chefs' inspirations. We revisited a few proven classics and tried some new ones too, all to delicious effect. We started with a constant menu item, one we'll never tire of, the Lombarda Pizza. (pictured above) Their own aromatic sausage and runny egg are our favorite toppings for the consistently excellent pizzas here, and this latest one did not disappoint (although I prefer the darker crust we usually get...)
The Lardo Pizza sounded intriguing. We'd draped pieces of lardo from the salumi platter over hot pizza crust before, and really enjoyed that melting texture, so a whole pizza like that sounded great. In practice, it was a little one-dimensional. The rosemary mentioned on the menu was barely detectable, and lardo is more about mouth-feel than vivid flavor, so the ultimate effect was too subtle. The could probably work, but needed a but more seasoning, maybe just some nice coarse salt.
We quickly forgot about troubleshooting the lardo pizza when the pancetta-wrapped snail spiedini showed up. Perfectly tender snails, pancetta and the creamiest
Duck and Foie Gras Terrine wasn't especially photogenic, but it was as creamy and decadently rich as you might guess.
Candele with Boar Bolognese might just be the perfect winter dish. The pasta itself has the perfect resilient tenderness, and the bolognese is reduced down so that it's barely a sauce, just ground pork adhering magically to the noodles.
Pork Ribs with Black Pepper Sausage is another dish that may not look like much, but any shortcomings in visual appeal were made up by the flavors of the falling-off-the-bone ribs and assertive sausage.
What?!? MORE pork?!? Yeah, for some reason the pork dishes were really appealing to us this evening, and I think it's safe to say: if they're offering the roast suckling pig special, get it. This was totally simple, but maybe the most gratifying dish of the night. The tender, juicy roast pig was herby, salty, doused in oil, and completely addictive. Even the potatoes were eliciting moans of delight.
Sorbettos were just about the only dessert we could contemplate after that extravaganza. This is blood orange, pineapple and meyer lemon. Those bright, vibrant flavors were an excellent ending to all this excess. Well, OK, we'll also admit to attempting to eat some zabaglione gelato, and some pistachio, but we're not proud of it.
Although it was completely unrealistic to even contemplate munching on these little petit fours over espresso, we couldn't resist ordering them for the sake of investigation. And this selection of snacks does indeed make a really lovely accompaniment to an espresso or after-dinner drink. The little white cookies were airy and lemony, the candied orange peel simultaneously sweet and bitter. The pistachio and pine-nut brittles were really good with coffee, as were the biscotti. We couldn't quite figure out what the flavors were in the pâté de fruits-ish jellied thing, but it was good... This is a really nice plate to share among 3 or 4 people at the end of a meal.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal all the way around, even considering the inevitable sticker-shock when the bill comes. It can climb up quickly if you're not paying attention (or asking the prices of specials!) and having some wine, but when the food's this good, I never regret it.
Osteria offical website at:osteriaphilly.com
Read a more complete review at philadining.com