Like a lot of people, I have a tendency to fall into routines. Some of my routines have been formed out of habit and some because they make life easier. I have a morning routine, an after-work routine, a routine at the gym, a routine when I’m cleaning my apartment.
I even have a routine when it comes to food. It’s a routine that many of you might be familiar with. It involves going to the same restaurants over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, there are countless great restaurants in the city, but I somehow always end up at the same places. It happens not because I’m lazy or afraid of change. It happens because I know the handful of places where I make repeat visits will deliver a quality meal, time after time.
Once such place is Osteria 2350 in the Strip District.
Tucked on the backside of the shopping complex that houses Marty’s Market sits Osteria 2350. The small, casual restaurant serves classic Italian fare just like Grandma made, at an affordable price. Owner and executive chef Greg Alauzen (also of Cioppino of Pittsburgh, next door) leads the charge with the help from chef di cucina, Matt McClelland.
The menus they’ve developed are supported and influenced by produce from farmers within the Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance. This ensures the highest quality and freshest, seasonal ingredients hit the table every time. It’s a philosophy more and more chefs in the city are adopting and, as a frequent visitor, it’s something I truly appreciate.
The space, like the menu, is simple. Small, marble tables and a few large, farmhouse tables can accommodate 50 or so guests. Paper menus double as placemats. And the food is prepared for all to see. The only complaint is, unlike its sister restaurant Cioppino, it lacks that welcoming warmth a small, causal restaurant should exude.
Portions are smaller than most dining spots in the city, so sharing an appetizer and selecting a soup or salad and a main dish is advised for hungry guests. But most of the menu is so inexpensive, it would be silly not to sample multiple dishes.
Start things off with a few of the appetizers. Favorites include the Greens and Beans, white beans and a parmesan broth so rich and creamy you may want to drink it; bruschetta, crisp crostini topped with spicy crushed tomatoes; and the antipasti selections, which include a variety of cured meats from Parma sausage, pickled vegetables, olives and tiny mozzarella balls. Other appetizer choices include sauteed calamari with white beans, preserved lemon and raisins and P.E.I. mussels.
Insalata selections are varied and feature a variety of greens. The kale salad comes with carrots, blue cheese and creamy buttermilk dressing. Spinach salad comes with hard-boiled egg, parmesan and warm bacon dressing. The asparagus salad includes arugula and parmesan vinaigrette. Other choices are Caesar salad, white bean salad and chicken salad.
The soup features change daily, but past offerings include steak and potato and cheddar-jalapeño.
Main-course selections are limited to various kinds of pasta and pizza. During lunch service, guests can enjoy sandwiches like house-cured pastrami on farm bread, chicken on a rosemary focaccia bun, and hot sausage.
The pizza is good but the pasta is a far superior choice. Most noodles are made in-house and range from cavatelli to spaghetti. Proteins — such as sausage, lamb, lobster and crab — are in most dishes, leaving vegetarians who don’t eat fish with limited options.
Standout main-course choices include: pappardelle pasta tossed with a meaty bolognese sauce and finished with parmesan cheese; agnolotti pasta placed in a rich parmesan broth and topped with snappy spring peas, goat cheese and delicate pork confit; and lemon-infused farfalle pasta with chunks of lobster, crab and asparagus.
My favorite — and the restaurant’s most popular menu item by far — is the gnocchi. It’s one of the simplest dishes on the menu but one of the main reasons I make repeat visits. House-made, airy gnocchi are served with a sweet red sauce and baked with fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It’s far from fancy and isn’t masked by a lot of ingredients, just the way it should be. And yes, I always add a meatball to my order, mainly because, why not?
Pro tip: Wine makes all of these dishes shine even more, so get a carafe for you and your friends. An extensive bottled beer and house cocktail list is also available if wine isn’t your thing.
Osteria’s causal vibe and quality fare keep me coming back, time after time. So, the next time you’re deciding which of your regular restaurant spots to visit, break out of your routine and head to the Strip for a meal and a restaurant that delivers.
Read more: http://triblive.com/aande/diningout/8308396-74/osteria-2350-routine#ixzz3ZTHXoyYr
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook