Osteria 57: An Intimate Fish & Vegetarian Spot That You Will Make One Of Your “Go To” Spots!

I was lucky enough to go to a press dinner at Osteria 57 and sample their wonderful Italian vegetarian and pescatarian fare. The location is dreamy–you cannot beat a rustic main floor West Village eatery with dim lighting in an old brownstone for ambiance! Owner Emanuele Nigro was raised in Milan and brings over some of the same ingredients he loved when he was living there, including local lemons and assorted wines that are created by friends who own vineyards in different parts of “The Boot.” Nigro has made Osteria 57 a success with the success of wine expert colleague Alessio Morosin and Executive Chef Riccardo Orfino. So let me tell you what a few of my favorite dishes were because I greatly appreciated the freshness and authenticity of all the ingredients. First of all, I was blown away by the Yes Prosecco that Morosin selected for us. If you go to their website www.yesprosecco.com you will see that it’s a spirit “all about the party”–and you will love the disco ball on the label. It fruity and light and perfect to have before a hearty meal. Osteria 57’s dishes are hearty even though they only serve fish and vegetables–as many regulars there say, “there is no way you will ever miss the meat eating here!”I just about live for fried zucchini blossoms and they do the very best version of this Northern Italian appetizer here–that is because the batter is extra light, creating a beautiful crispy golden crunch when you bite into one. Topped with dill and lemon zest taken from Positano area grown lemons, there is a fresh flavor combo that cannot be beaten. I like that it is considered “finger food” and that the chef comes out and encourages you to pick it up.For those who love Tuscan Vegetable Soup and its many variations, the version at Osteria 57 totally rocks. There are assorted Italian beans, green onions, zucchini and greens including lots of whole basil. There are a couple of interesting root vegetables that I was not familiar with but I thoroughly enjoyed their crunch. The soup is light and non-dairy and just gives you a warm feeling inside.They use a lot of artichokes at Osteria 57 and that is fine with me because I cannot get enough of them. The artichoke salad with pea puree, fresh mint and Parmigiano Reggiano is light with a cheesy kick. The pea puree adds a beautiful sweetness against the homemade balsamic vinaigrette. As you can tell from the photo above, it’s served in the most artistic way with a little couscous on the side. I found the pool of beautiful bright green pea puree totally fascinating; I almost did not want to dig into it!The grilled peaches with mizuna salad (topped with stracciatella) is remarkable. You cannot believe the freshness of the cheese or the natural sweetness of the grilled peaches–the grilling really brings put that sweetness and the grill marks are just so pretty. All the cheeses at Osteria 57 taste like they were made on the premises that day and I don’t think that is far from what really happens.The house’s most famous pasta is their homemade extra large tubular pasta with the chef’s grandma’s homemade tomato sauce simply known as Paccheri Pomodoro E Burrata. The remarkable sauce is made with a big variety of organic tomatoes including plum tomatoes and while it is not a chunky marinara, it is rich and satisfying. I was fascinated by the fact it was so, so red–not the orange-red we commonly associate with tomato sauce here in traditional NYC Italian restaurants.Branzino is the most popular fish served at Osteria 57 and it is simply grilled with a brushing of olive oil with skin left on one side. It is a generous portion of close to a half pound and its simple preparation really makes the flavor shine through. The fish is flown in overnight from Italy just like many of the other ingredients used here.You cannot leave without trying the rhubarb and strawberry tart with vanilla gelato and basil. The tart is actually more like a soft buttery Danish and dusted with confectioners sugar. The gelato here is non-dairy and has an interesting natural vanilla taste and unique grainy texture. This is strictly a “don’t miss” especially if you enjoy unusual and not-to-sweet desserts.Osteria 57 is moderately priced and the pace of the restaurant is slow and luxurious. You will never feel rushed even if it is crowded. The clientele is very mixed but it is a very romantic setting for “date night.” Reservations are recommended but not mandatory. For more info, go to www.osteria57.com. They also offer cooking classes!

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