Saturday, August 1, 2009
What a disappointment! I had been wanting to dine at Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin's Osteria (640 North Broad Street) for over a year. (The year I've been in school and on unemployment) Finally, I was given a gift certificate to this much talked about and written about Trattoria. Still, I waited weeks for the right day and when I was in the proper mood.
Now perhaps I shouldn't have gone alone. I've always said, food loses 5-10% of it's magic the moment you utter these two dismal little words to the hostess - "just one". Waiters do a perfunctory job, knowing that 20% of a single bill will never equal the tip they're looking to receive. At Osteria, I wasn't even read the specials, as if to say "get her in and out, she doesn't need the full treatment".
Once dining alone at Jones (ordered an entree) I wasn't given bread. I later asked about it and the waitress said "that normally comes between appetizers and the meal and I didn't order an appetizer" huh? Since when! Whether casual or fine dining, Bread always comes right before or directly after being served water and asked what you'd like to drink.
Segueing back to Osteria, the bread was the only thing I truly enjoyed that evening. It was a Honey Simolina, firm yet soft, sweet and nutty, fabulous with butter, delicious plain. I choose a decent wine as well: Argiolas, Costamolino, Vermentino di Sardegna 2008, a sharp white with a rhine edge.
Antipasti - Pecorino Flan w/ artichoke, fava beans and mint
Nice, light, but the flavors didn't really blend in any memorable manner.
Primi - Goat Cheese Gnocchi w/crispy prosciutto
This was the real disappointment. Oblong balls of dough swimming in grease (a brown butter sauce). The prosciutto was anything but crispy. The goat cheese didn't flavor or create a cheese center, rather it just gave the gnocchi a tasteless spongy consistency.
Secondi - if my gift certificate had been a bit more generous, I would have tried the Rabbit "Casalinga" although this seemed out of season, I don't think of rabbit as summer fare.
Contorni - Zeppole di San Guiseppe w/ bitter chocolate sauce
Not sure why I choose this dessert since I'd had enough dough. Basically a super light beignet, too light to have any decadence.
I was also disappointed with the decor, it's really too large to be considered a Trattoria. It felt to me like a fancy pizza parlor. I assumed Osteria would have understated charm, something akin to Mercato (Spruce and Camac) which by the way has wonderful cheese plates; when I go back for dinner I'll do a full review.
I still plan to dine at Marc Vetri's original restaurant Vetri (1321 Spruce) which Bon Appetite magazine calls probably the best Italian restaurant in America. And I have to return to the "fancy pizza parlor" for pizza, before I can truly give a rating. However, for this meal and experience... Pretty 4th Toe