I was happy to be invited for brunch at Osteria Accademia at 93rd and Amsterdam after enjoying a fabulously authentic and classy dinner there five or six months ago. The service is quick and friendly, the portions are respectably sized and the prices are in the medium range (brunch entrees are $17 to $28). Some items are fresh takes on classic American brunch fare while some are what I would call “Mediterranean Fusion” and still others are hardcore Southern Italian.
If you want to go traditional during your brunch at Accademia Osteria, you can! Pictured here is the very popular Caramel Banana French Toast which is made with brioche then topped with strawberries and caramel sauce. All of this lies on a mound of bananas flambé. The bacon ordered as a side is caramelized, making this a dynamic duo. I am sure the restaurant can accommodate you if you want plain ‘ol fried bacon, and keep in mind that all the meat used at Accademia Osteria is locally raised, and you can taste the quality.
My choice of entree item was the Braised Short Rib on House Made Focaccia, which also features pickled red onion, lettuce, tomato and melted fresh mozzarella. This is a super special sandwich and I decided to order it after trying the Short Ribs With Pappardelle for dinner here. Accademia Osteria’s chefs are masters of the short rib and this sandwich is served with an amazing dipping sauce made primarily of the short rib “jus” and red wine. The focaccia was golden, soft and lightly topped with onions. Overall this is an amazing sandwich and any fan of short ribs much put this on their foodie bucket list! The fries that “side” this entree are perfectly golden and are seasoned just perfectly. The other sandwiches offered at brunch is the Burger di Agnello which is actually a 7 ounce lamb burger topped with caramelized onion and goat cheese and the Meatball Sandwich created with meatballs out of angus beef and veal then topped with pickled red onions and mozzarella. I must go back to try them!
I can’t go to a Southern Italian restaurant without trying a side of pasta, and most of Osteria Accademia’s pasta is homemade (with their own homemade marina sauce, of course)! The portion is a solid one to two cup portion and is reasonably priced at $10. I noticed a few of the kids at this family friendly establishment enjoying this classic.
Health minded brunchers can choose several healthy veggie sides priced at $10 and created with EVOO including Broccoli Rabe, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, Funghi Saltari and Oven Roasted Potatoes. The Brussels Sprouts are served firm and are well seasoned, then topped with some fresh parm.
A dish that can be an appetizer or entree for two to share—and is exceptionally well done at Osteria Accademia—is the Burrata, which is perfectly soft and gooey like this mozzarella-like cheese should be. It sits on an amazing bed of chopped white asparagus with yellow and red beets then topped with a vinaigrette and fresh basil. Everything used is sourced from local farms and the cheese tastes like it was made within the last hour. This is an amazing menu choice for folks who are major fans of Buratta like my dining partner Gail and I are.
Back to traditional Southern Italian fare…the Chicken Parmigiana served here is in a league of its own and so big that two people can share it as a brunch entree! The mozzarella is homemade and the chicken breast used oozes juice. The aromatic breadcrumbs feature both fresh and dried herbs which also gives this dish a little kick. The Chicken Parm is sided with an amazing chicory salad simply topped with EVOO and lemon.
If you have room for dessert after all this food, Osteria Accademia has a lovely dessert list that includes Mocha Tiramisu, Chocolate Amaretto Tortino, Gelato & Sorbet selections, Cheesecake with Berry Compote & Whipped Cream and Crème Brulee, my favorite is the cannoli, though—you get two large cannolis with a super fresh ricotta filling. The pieces of fresh candied orange put this legendary dessert over the top! You won’t find a higher quality cannoli anywhere else in NYC!
I have yet to see anyone read any of the hundreds of books lining the walls of Osteria Accademia while eating or waiting for food but it’s a great look. There are also cute photos of libraries lining the bathroom walls. This tiny storefront feels oh-so-cozy and has romantic dark lighting at night. For more info, go to accademianyc.com. The address is 646 Amsterdam Avenue between 91st and 92nd Streets on the north side of the street. Reservations are not mandatory but are recommended (the restaurant tends to get very crowded at 7 to 8 pm each night since it is a neighborhood favorite)!