Osteria Philadelphia Pizza Review
Currently, one of the most famous pizza places in Philadelphia is Osteria. According to Alan Richman of GQ magazine, Osteria was one of the top 25 best American pizza places in the country out of the top ten cities. Actually, there was only one other pizza place from Philadelphia on this list, Tacconelli’s. Today I would like to express my opinions for the record. Hopefully my review will provide an insight on how not to take a top 25 list too serious by any food critic.
What is the best pizza?A best pizza place is a place that was recognized by an individual or individuals as to be great. It was just their opinion. You can’t weigh greatness or state a restaurant’s greatness as a fact. It is just an opinion usually derived from some food critic’s review.
Why am I starting this review philosophically? This review is more than just about Osteria. It is about how certain people with significant influence in the food world can say that a place is “Great” and all of a sudden every food lover (particularly in that region) is booking reservations. When a person as popular as Richman states that a pizza place is one of the top 25 best pizza joints in the United States, this becomes my example. Is this fair? No but this is the way the food review system works.
I think by my introduction you can tell where I will be going with this review. I have recently went to Osteria after a long await. I have been planning on going there for almost a year now, even more so when the GQ top 25 came out. Before I go into depth of my pizza review, first let me provide a profile of Osteria.
Osteria officially opened February 15, 2007 and is located at 640 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130 (North of City Hall on the West Side of Broad Street). The three owners of Osteria all are very actively involved in the Philadelphia cuisine community in some way. Marc Vetri and Jeff Michaud are two very prominent chefs in Philly. The third owner, Jeff Benjamin, is a business man slash wine enthusiast. All three owners together are an excellent recipe for a successful restaurant in Philly. This may be a large contributing factor for their popularity. Osteria has been recognized by the New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Weekly, Bon Appétit, and many other famous media giants as a top rated Philly restaurant.
The name “osteria” is an Italian word that can be translated to mean something similar to a pub. However, the reality is that an osteria is a place for people to drink wine and chat while having various options of food that can be ordered. The key focus of an osteria is the wine (not too many Italians drink beer). This is in contrast to a ristorante (or restaurant) which is more formalized. I wanted to state this explanation of an osteria so that I can elaborate on how Osteria is nothing like what its name translates to in Italian.
Osteria is an extremely high class restaurant with a high class atmosphere and a high class price tag. This is in contrast with a typical Italian osteria which is more of a casual nature. Osterias in Italy are more of a place for friends to come, sit, and drink wine together while having the option of food.
To start this review I would like to talk about what I do like about Osteria. First, the place is absolutely beautiful for a restaurant. Detail has been paid attention to in almost every physical category. They have a beautiful bar, oven, and a special aesthetic appeal due to proper interior design planning. Second, the place has popularity. For some, food is not important. They would much prefer to go to places with high prestige so that they can brag to their friends that this is the kind of restaurants that they fancy. If you are one of these people then you would fit right in here. Third, the wine selection is very thorough. If you are a wine connoisseur then this may also be a place for you to try at least once. It appears that the owners have a good eye for wine. To write this previous paragraph of things that I like has taken me over twenty five minutes to think of so I have to stop and continue onto a subject that will flow more freely for me.
What I didn’t like about Osteria: To start, I would like to quote my friend that went with me: “The place was really nice but the food sucks.” This was sort of my attitude too for several reasons. First, the staff was very impolite. This is a high class place…the waiters should ask how high if I asked them to jump. Instead, you are dealing with staff that makes you feel like they are rushing you out the door. Just because their shift is coming to an end shouldn’t be a reason that you should have to feel hurried. This is one of the things that bother me the most when dining out. I cannot stand when I am not treated properly as a valued customer. If I sense improper treatment from the time I walk in then I already know that the meal will never reach its fullest potential even if it does have the qualities of great food.
Another thing that I did not like about Osteria is the seating arrangement. The tables are all aligned perfectly to fit the maximum amount of people that this restaurant can accommodate. This makes me feel like cattle. The herds of people sit right on top of each other as we all eat together. If you want to have a discussion with the people in your party than this is equivalent to you making an announcement to the whole place. Everyone can hear what you are saying even if they are not trying. To me, I need my space when eating especially if I am paying big money to do so. I don’t even mean a lot of space just enough. The tables are about 4 inches from one another – this does not work for me.
By the way, if you plan on coming here, be very familiar with off street parking as this will be necessary. This building is on a big street (Broad Street) without a parking lot (so good luck with that).
Off to my pizza review…I ordered the Margherita pizza here as usual. My overall review of their pizza with every other problem above excluded is good. The problem is that it is not great. This is the Best Philadelphia Pizza Blog here and thus, the goal of this blog is to find the best Philadelphia pizza. I cannot consider Osteria as having the best Philadelphia pizza. There are many more pizza places that stand well above this high class joint in a gourmet pizza contest.
The Margherita pizza is a personal 10 inch pie that is cut in four slices. There was exactly one leaf of basil on each slice, which is much fewer than most other gourmet Margherita pizzas.
The crust was good as it was a little blackened (New York pizza lovers’ style). The thin crust pizza at Osteria was also very easily foldable without cracking. This is a good sign for gourmet pizza.
The sauce was very red indicating a very bland sauce (pure tomato puree and crushed tomatoes without cheese etc.). The more orange a sauce is the more cheese that has been added. This sauce was a bright red and sweet but not too distinct that would knock me off my chair (or even notice it if I wasn’t writing a review about it).
The mozzarella cheese was slightly patched throughout the pizza and I didn’t have any problems with its consistency.
From reading my pizza review of Osteria you will see that I didn’t have anything bad to say about their pizza. This is true but that is the problem. I don’t have anything great to say about it either. The pizza was priced at $15. The cost in relationship to my happiness level was not properly balanced. Osteria pizza does not have the qualities of great Philadelphia pizza that the media has hyped it up to have. This is not on my list of best Philadelphia pizzas as I give it a yellow light (proceed with caution).
Philadelphia pizza has so many better pizza places for your dollar and energy level. I was actually very disappointed when I left Osteria, thus, my energy level went down. I think Alan Richman needs to start reading my blogs a little more. If you want to post a pizza review in Philadelphia, than you better leave that up to someone who actually knows the place very well. Although Osteria may have other foods that could taste good, I am not concerned with that as my focus is on the best pizza…and they don’t have it! Stay tuned though I as will truly discover who exactly does have the best Philadelphia Pizza.