Soup sleuth, Part III: Osteria 166 - PHOTOS
blog by Thea Tio • November 14, 2013 @ 12:15pm
Osteria 166 may have just hit Buffalo’s food scene with a soft opening in June, but owner Nick Pitillo has been in the restaurant and hospitality business for years.
Considering the owner’s lineage and his noticeable comfort at the helm of the downtown restaurant, it’s not shocking to see black-and-white photographs that line the restaurant’s interior, paying respect to Pitillo’s family history, restaurateurs in Western New York for over 100 years.
Osteria, pronounced “OWE-stir-ee-ahh” instead of commonly mispronounced “ah-STARE-ee-ah,” means “casual pub” in Italian.
“We try to create an atmosphere that’s really more casual than normal but still provide great quality products and try not to go too much off the beaten path, but still let people explore different flavors,” said Pitillo.
A step away from what’s considered traditional Italian is reflected in all of Osteria’s menu items.
“We don’t have a regular red lasagna, but our chicken lasagna is a hit. We don’t have calamari but we do a char-grilled octopus with red wine vinegar aioli on a crostini. It’s just kind of a twist on the norm,” said Pitillo.
Auntie Kim’s Specialty Pasta Fagioli is a regular staple on the menu, a raved-about product of Pitillo’s sister.
The fagioli is a hearty, rustic bean and tomato-based soup that’s served in a cup for $3 or a bowl for $5.
As a cheese lover, the Mozzarella Focaccia ($4) in the appetizer section immediately caught my eye. Paired with the Pasta Fagioli, the focaccia elevates this soup to a whole new level.
The focaccia is a homemade rosemary garlic bread with olive oil and mozzarella cheese marvelously melted into the dips of the bread. As an appetizer, the bread is served with a side of marinara sauce, but I used it to dip into my soup—you know, like an oyster cracker—and the combination became the perfect comfort food for a chilly day.
Like the foccacia, most of Osteria’s ingredients are made in-house in the basement kitchen, including sauces, ricotta, mozzarella and the ravioli, among other pastas. Most recently, they just started curing their own meats, a delicate process that can sometimes take up to eight weeks.
“It’s an art really. My chef Jeff Cooke has done an amazing job with it,” said Pitillo.
Different soups rotate frequently at Osteria like a Pumpkin Soup last week and currently a Beer & Cheese Italian Soup.
Another traditional soup with a twist offered in the rotation is the Italian Wedding Soup ($7 bowl) with crisp carrots and celery.
“The best chicken soup you’ve ever had with meatballs in it!” said Pitillo.
However, not just any meatballs, these are made of duck and veal. While they may look pretty standard, when you take a bite they are incredibly tender and have a deliciously distinct flavor.
Pair this soup with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and you’ll warm right up in these chilly temps.