Osteria, the warm and wonderful new Italian restaurant on Jinxian Lu, is having its grand opening tonight at 6 pm, though it appears to have already built up a following in its soft opening phase. Certainly co-owner Eduardo Vargas can move large swaths of diners with his involvement in any restaurant, mostly because his brand (and it’s now definitely a brand) connotes an immediate sense of comfort and quality. Osteria easily clears the bar, but this time greatly due to the help of the charismatic Zoltan, partner and sommelier/wine journalist who zealously preys on empty wine glasses both downstairs in the lounge and upstairs where the main courses are served. This is a man who loves his wine and relishes in sharing it with his new friends. And you, dear reader, will be made to feel like a new friend right when you walk in.
The food is purposefully simple and understated. Paraphrasing Canadian chef Nigel,”I like cod. Cod tastes good. I see no reason to mask this goodness with anything fancy.” Cod, snapper, baked chicken, pork loin made up the four main dish selections in Osteria’s prix-fixed menu (188 RMB); each choice is preceded by an antipasti and a pasta dish, amongst which the tenderly braised rabbit gnocchi and the calamari were our personal favorite.
With Zoltan swooping in at opportune times to check in on us, suggest new wines, and close out our evening with a punchy grappa on the house, it was hard not to feel just a little cared for in all the right ways.
Osteria – 226 Jinxian Lu, near Shanxi Lu (进贤路226号, 近陕西路) Tel: 6256-8998, Hours: Mon-Sat, 6pm-late
Eric Hu is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news and gossip about Shanghai’s food scene to food at shanghaiist.com.