I hope your Holidays are delightful and as stress-free as possible this year. Currently, Frank and I are in Philadelphia visiting family and enjoying old and new foodie haunts. I thought I’d share with you some of the fun we’re having and give you some ideas in case you’re ever visiting the City of Brotherly Love.
On Saturday we made our way to Reading Terminal Market, a large indoor market in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. Locals and tourists alike keep the market bustling year round. The market is an amazing mixture of local vendors ranging from Amish foods and eateries, to cheesesteaks, hoagies, salumeries, cheese mongers, fish mongers, butchers and produce stands to name only a few. Despite this array of food we tend to gravitate towards one of our favorite sandwich shops is all the city- DiNic’s Roast Pork and Beef. The roast pork, or roast pork Italian sandwich has long been a city favorite, garnering as much praise and generating as much bickering as the beloved and widely-known Philadelphia Cheesesteak of Pat Oliveri lore.
Frank and I were fortunate to snag a couple seats at the counter and split a roast pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. As usual, the sandwich was amazing especially since DiNic’s makes rabe regularly available now, not just spinach. Rabe rules, no doubt about it. Satisfied that the sandwich would hold us over until a much anticipated dinner at Osteria, we strolled around RTM, gathering in the sights, sounds, smells and energy of the collective merchants and market-goers.
Across Market St. and two blocks up the street across from City Hall is Macy’s, or the old Wanamaker’s department store where a long standing Christmas tradition plays out several times a day around the Holiday. Passed from generation to generation is the experience of gathering by the Eagle in the 5 story center hall to see the Holiday Light Show. A 3 story wall of lights flickers and blinks in rhythm with the music which tells the stories of the Sugar Plum Fairies, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Santa and the Nutcracker.
Having good karma at DiNic’s and catching the Light Show just in time left us feeling positive about our dinner that night at Osteria. We were right. Osteria is the newer restaurant from Mark Vetri, of Vetri. Vetri is one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia and probably one of the best Italian restaurants in the country. While Vetri is small, some 36 seats or so, Osteria is spacious and manages to marry a warehouse space with warm wood and deep colors making it altogether welcoming and enticing.
Our meal was superlative from our informative server to the silver service to our napkins being folded within seconds of our individual departures to the restrooms. While our main server explained the menu and took our order, the dishes were served and cleared by numerous staff who made themselves unobtrusive to ensure a sense of seamlessness throughout the meal.
We started with the Lombarda Pizza which had a yolky sunny side up egg and perfectly cooked thin crust which had just enough blister to let you know the pizzaiolo knows his way around Osteria’s wood-fired brick oven which cooks the pizza at a hellish 700 degrees. The in-house made cotechino sausage (sausage and all cured meats except the Proscuito are made in-house) was fragrant with cloves and nutmeg and played nicely on the palate against the bitto cheese. And the yolk-what’s to say? Creamy. Delicious. Perfect.
Our pizza was followed by sharing a lobster spaghetti- a whole lobster with meat removed and combined with al dente pasta in a light tomato sauce with is served over the lobster shell. This dish is large, more of an entree portion of American timber. Besides the perennial lobster special, we ordered a pork special- a young pig, marinated in brine and braised. Loin, shoulder and rib was portioned with yukon gold potatoes. The pig was intensely flavored with fennel and was very moist. It was one of those dishes which made me think to myself that I would have no idea how to pump this intensity of flavor into anything!
Despite being quite full, we decided to try a dolci and ordered the cranberry and hickory nut tart with zabaglione gelato (also made in-house). This was wonderful with tart cranberries and creamy gelato punctuated by the crunch of nuts. Cups of decaffeinated Miscela D’Oro coffee was strong and delicious.
All of this with 2 glasses of Prosecco came to around $130. I would highly recommend Osteria and am planning to return. One visit in simply not enough. Between the pizzas, antipastas, primis, secondis, contornos and dolcis, there seems to be infinite ways to configure an amazing meal at Osteria. Not to mention the daily specials, in particular the pastas.