Friday, May 6, 2011

Off the Map: On the Streets of Philadelphia

Margherita Pizza – Osteria, Philadelphia, PA

Sometimes, we leave Manhattan.  And being the compulsive Best Thing I Ever Ate fans that we are, we still like to go to the restaurants featured on the show while in different locales.  Which is what happened to Vodka Stinger, sans Ginger Orchid, the last time she visited Philadelphia.

She wanted to go to Vetri.

For his LAST SUPPER dish on Best Thing I Ever Ate, Michael Symon had recommended Vetri’s pasta tasting menu.  And as someone who refused to order anything but “noodles with butter, no parsley” for the bulk of my first 18 years, this menu sounded right up my alley (I have thankfully grown out of this noodle monomania, though not of my aversion to parsley).

Unfortunately, reservations at Vetri were not available when my parents and I wished to go, so we settled for Osteria, another branch in the Vetri family tree.  Philadelphia, being the city closest to my hometown and the location of both mine and Ginger’s college years, holds a nostalgic place in my heart.  Admittedly, I never get to try a wide variety of dining in Philadelphia, mostly because my mother’s long-harbored crush on Jose Garces forces us into one of his (wonderful) restaurants after another, often multiple times.  (Not only have my parents been to all of Jose's restaurants, but they appear at Amada almost monthly, and my mom always requests their favorite server, “Matt.”  His name is Daniel).


We went to Osteria because I wanted to try Marc Summers’s favorite PIZZA, the margherita pizza, which -- let me say upfront -- is not my kind of pizza.  I like cheese – unholy amounts of cheese – and minimal sauce.  Margherita pizzas, as a whole, are the opposite of that description.
That's a Lot of Sauce and Not Much Cheese You Got There
Splitting the pizza as an appetizer, it arrives at our table looking pleasant enough: super thin crust, bright red tomato sauce, splotches of fresh mozzarella, and sprinkled basil leaves.  As our waiter explains, their pizza receives the kudos it does because it is comprised of these four simple ingredients – a classic pizza.

And it’s good… for a classic pizza.  But call me crazy – I like cheese covering the entire slice (preferably the crust as well, but I’ll take what I can get), and a margherita pizza is just not that style.
Dreaming of Pizza Hut
However, both of the pastas that we order (the chicken liver rigatoni and porcini and taleggio ravioli) are to die for – TO DIE FOR.  If the pasta dishes were the food featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, I would without a doubt give them 5 stars.

And thus confirms why I need to go to Vetri.

Osteria’s Margherita Pizza: 3 stars


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  2. I'm totally dubious about Marc Summers's recommendations. I'm sure you guys already realized that long ago (Carney's? Seriously? ?) Even worse, wasn't his favorite "steak" at Steak & Shake or something? Ick. Though he DID recommend the one restaurant in my hometown that was ever featured on this show (can't wait to read about your experience!)...but he picked the wrong sandwich.