What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I mention comfort food?
I’ll read you on this one: pho, falafel, chili, ice cream, mac and cheese. Getting warm?
While I can identify with you on all counts (it warms my heart to think of chili) my answer is none of the above.
I absolutely adore Italian. I will crave a hot bowl of pasta above nearly all else from now until the end of time.
My family was also in wont of the sweet allure of ravioli and tagliatelle so we branched from our normal Mercato comfort zone. A departure for us creatures of habit but it does pay to freshen up our dining choices from time to time. In this case, we went to Osteria La Bottiglia on bridge run night. Oh speaking of which, I nabbed an awesome shot of the bridge that my friend brushed up a touch on photo shop. Behold!
Despite the fact that the Cooper River Bridge Run may or may not have been a total disaster this year, it doesn’t take away from the absolutely gorgeous scenery encountered along the way. Or the delicious food eaten later.
Speaking of food, I have gotten mildly off topic. Most people carbo-load pre bridge. I, on the other hand, decided I wanted pasta after the bridge run, only after I got my pork fix.
Maybe some of you recall the blowing of my mind last year when I encountered Porchetta. A refresher:
Yup. Osteria had it on the menu the other night too.
Oh. Emm. Eff. Gee. A traditional Central Italian street food, porchetta consists of a pig being deboned, reassembled with multiple layers of fat and meat, stuffed with herbs and spices including (but not limited to) rosemary, garlic, and fennel, that is then rolled, spitted, and roasted. The result is the most delicious, moist, flavorful, decadent, ridiculous, over-the-top, unbelievable piece or pork you have ever tasted. Bar none. I promise you. It is literally insane to think about how much work goes into making this pork product; it makes curing bacon look like a walk in the park. If you have never tried porchetta before I highly recommend you research it a little to find where you can purchase it. While surprisingly rare in the Southeast, it is well worth the extra effort. Oh, and the salad was good too.
Fava bean and ricotta salad with toasted almonds. A fresh, light summer salad with a delicious fresh Italian theme. For the life of me, I don’t understand why so many people hear the phrase “Italian food” and associate it with heavy gut-bomb cuisine. Do me a favor, read any Giada de Laurentiis cookbook and tell me if you find one recipe that makes you feel so heavy you’ll be sick and have to take a nap after. Bean salad is a delicious way to enjoy spring and summer greens without feeling incredibly full prior to your entree.
This salad truly takes the cake. Delicious fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, aged balsamic, fresh basil; this puppy has it all. As far as caprese salads go in Charleston, this is right up there with the best of them, if not the absolute best one. Gorgeous presentation without being too pretentious for what it is. A knockout that pleases both the eyes and the mouth.
I have been to Osteria just a handful of times since they’ve opened. I would say of those 4 times, I have ordered this dish 3 times. It is legitimately crave-worthy. I tried one time to get something else and actually I succeeded in ordering another menu item. While equally delicious (it was Osso Bucco, I mean COME ON how can it not be amazing), it just could not hold the proverbial candle to the duck confit with pasta. This entire dish is so sublimely successful in flavors, execution, and presentation that it has easily become one of my favorite Italian dishes anywhere, and not just Charleston.
On a side note, remember Mistral, the country French place formerly perched at South Market Street? I’m sure anyone who’s been in Charleston over 5 years recalls hearing jovial dixieland tunes spilling out of their front entrance on any given night. If you’re like me and miss specifically the music of Mistral, you’re in luck. On Wednesdays, Osteria plays host to that exact same band and their upbeat, fun brand of music. It is definitely worth grabbing a glass of wine or a fantastic pasta dish at the bar to hear the talented musicians wail on banjos and trombones.
Osteria is a delicious, inexpensive neighborhood haunt that is worth a try if you remember how fantastic Il Cortile used to be. Whether you want to forge a new path or replicate a delicious Italian memory all without putting a sizable dent in your wallet, I recommend doing so at this adorable eatery.