Sunday, August 7, 2011

Osteria, Philadelphia - Beet and goat cheese plin

The laurels reaped by Osteria are well deserved: chef Jeff Michaud won the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Mid-Atlantic 2010, the restaurant was nominated for Best New Restaurant 2008, and best pizza in Philadelphia according to Philadelphia Magazine 2011. Osteria is part of lauded chef and entrepreneur Marc Vetri's restaurant group Vetri Family, which includes his flagship restaurant Vetri, along with Amis, Alla Spina, and a children's charity foundation.
The setting is an industrial space converted into a large, airy eatery reminiscent of a Tuscan country house, with exposed wood tables, an open kitchen with brick oven and salumeria meats on display, and a lovely greenhouse-like dining room enclosed in glass. The feel is relaxed and rustic.

One of the standouts at Osteria was the beet and goat cheese plin with tarragon. This was my first time eating plin, which are Piemontese "pinched" ravioli. Plin are oblong pasta pouches narrower than typical square or circular ravioli. The plate arrived looking like a watercolor - the pink of the beets muted through glossy pasta, a few dark green strips of tarragon throughout - with a dusting of snowy grated cheese on top.

The Plin were delicious, and a perfect match of taste, texture, and color - the sweetness from the beets tempered by a hint of sharpness in the cheese, the texture creamy but with a little bite in the al dente pasta. The fun part was biting or cutting into one of the plin and revealing the hot pink beet mixture inside.

I tend to associate ravioli with winter - especially traditional cheese or spinach ravioli - so the beet version was a bright, summery twist on this ultimate comfort food.

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