By Christopher A. Pape
I am of the firm conviction that there is nothing better than Italian in New York City. From homestyle to “alto Italiano” (high-class Italian) there is much to choose from in our fair metropolis. And now with the opening of East 12th Osteria there is an option that is as delicious as eating in the land of La Docle Vita. With smart, sensuous and smallish options – chef Roberto Deiaco has created a menu that is a delight to both the eyes and the palate.
Deiaco opened East 12th Osteria with his wife, Giselle, who runs the front of the house. The couple renovated a bodega with furniture they designed themselves. The space – small, but sexy – makes the perfect package for Deiaco’s food, which is bold, confident and most importantly, delicious.
We started with a vitello tonnato – thinly sliced veal, tuna sauce, orange and grapefruit segments and caper berries. It was vibrant, zesty and a true Italian classic. Another favorite was the fritto di mare with juicy shrimp, tender calamari, musky red mullet and appetizing zucchini blossom – it was another Italian homerun.
The same attention to detail was also found in Signore Deiaco’s pastas. The Gnocchetti, Imperiale di Granchio - gnocchi with crabmeat, in a creamy chili pepper tomato broath was a culinary revelation. The gnocchi were bite-sized pillows of pleasure in our mouths and the crab was plump and succulent. Another standout was the Tagliolini all’Uovo. Served with a basil truffle pesto, ricotta salata cheese and fresh black truffles it was an explosion of taste. We savored each morsel and we cajoled and pleaded with the chef for more; he happily obliged.
For the main dishes, there was a duck two ways that was another mouthwatering option. The two options were – an intensely flavorful confit and a delicate breast, thickly sliced and cooked to perfection. The acidity of the orange essence cut through the fat and provided even more depth of taste from the bird.
There are few times in which I can report that each dish I had was sensational. I could give you a laundry list of items I ate – each better than the next, but suffice it to say that East 12th Osteria will make you smile. You may even hum an Italian tune or two as you leave. •
East 12 Osteria
197 1st Ave.
New York, NY 10003