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Eat Beat - Osteria Cucina Rustica
Osteria Cucina Rustica
91 South Main Street
Owners | Angelo Bongiovanni and Steven Botta
Years in Business | Osteria is brand new, but Angelo and Steven opened Brando’s Citi Cucina in Asbury Park two years ago and previously owned restaurants in Greenwich Village for more than 20 years. Brando’s has been rated the number one restaurant in Monmouth County and one of the top-10 best restaurants in the tri-state area by www.OpenTable.com.
Who We Are | Descendants of Italians from southern Italy who are passionate about food from all regions of Italy, serving peasant-style fare with a modern twist.
Signature Dishes | Homemade agnolotti (mini-ravioli) stuffed with anything from short rib to duck to traditional mozzarella cheese; Porchetta (herb-stuffed and rolled pork) served over polenta; Orata (Mediterranean Sea bream) served whole or filleted at the table; and 35-day dry-aged steak.
Per Tutti (for everyone) | Full pizza menu of wood-burning oven specialties like white pizza with arugula and truffle oil and prosciutto di parma with parmigiano reggiano.
Happy Hour | Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m. with signature cocktails like Blood Orange Martini and Negroni (gin, sweet vermouth and Compari, topped with Prosecco) as well as the extensive wine menu and Piattini menu (small plates served at the bar).
Osteria isn’t just a place that serves wine and food, as it’s name suggests. Reasons to visit Osteria Cucina Rustica may be too many to list, and some you’ll have to discover for yourself. However, the mere mention of some of them could render you a slave to your salivary glands and/or appetite. They offer delicious homemade pasta, homemade meatballs, special seafood dishes, aged steaks and pizza from the wood-burning oven, just to name a few. The brand new, free-standing building in Marlboro is opening this month. Steven and Angelo, childhood friends, have collaborated to design and create this authentic Italian setting where they will share the enthusiasm and delectable recipes passed down by the passionate chefs who raised them. As owners, they each bring plenty to the table. For instance, Angelo graduated New York City Technical College with a culinary degree and spent 35 years in the restaurant industry. The Cacace family (Angelo’s in-laws) are responsible for his continued education at the famous Michael’s of Brooklyn, which the family opened in 1964 and operated for three generations. Then there’s Focacceria Restaurant and Nellie’s, both in New York, which Angelo owned for more than 20 years.
Angelo and Steven share a flair for innovation and years of culinary dedication, with a passion for tradition that began very early on in their mothers' kitchens. For instance, the Sunday morning tradition was to fry meatballs while the sauce simmered, and to this day, Steven still personally makes the sauce each Sunday at Osteria as well as Brando’s, – just one example of a traditional recipe adapted for the restaurant.
“We are consistent,” Steven says. “You can always count on the food being just as good as it was the last time you had it.” In addition to traditional dishes served with a modern flair, Osteria offers new experiences for your palate, such as a dish called Pulpo (octopus) and Seppia (cuttlefish) over fava bean puree and served with broccoli rabe. Their ingredients are nothing but the best and the freshest, such as meats from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors in Manhattan. Putting appetite aside for a moment, consider that at Osteria you won't be in for a typical night out for an average meal. Dine in style in a Tuscan style farm house with 100-year old reclaimed floors made from actual barns. You can also enjoy the mouth-watering experience of watching the chefs prepare your meal through the glass walls of the open kitchen. If you’d prefer a lighter meal, a Piattini menu (small plates) is served at the indoor or outdoor bar. Choose the outdoor patio for either lunch or dinner. There are also two dining rooms that each seat 60. Wine-lovers can indulge in the private wine room, with an extensive wine list and the opportunity to custom-tailor a wine and food-pairing menu.
Since Osteria has an on-premises pastry chef, leaving room for dessert is highly recommended – especially if you like homemade zeppoli, served with powdered sugar or cinnamon and brown sugar, and fried tortoni, which is ice cream fried in amaretti cookies with a honey and amaretto reduction. Their extensive aperitifs, particularly the homemade limoncello, cherry grappa and long list of amaros (digestivos), are also on the must-try list.
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