Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Osteria Ottimo

Being someone who likes to make life as easy as possible, whenever Hackknife Jr. (and just recently Hackknifette) need a hair trimming, we caravan over to our local kids clips franchise. They have videos to watch, cool cars to sit in, a train set that Hackknife Jr. loves, etc., all things to make cutting kids hair most pleasurable for the parents. Anyway, a few visits ago while Buzz Lightyear droned away on the TV screens, I noticed a new restaurant that had popped up where a falafel stand used to be in the same strip mall complex. Of course, my initial feeling was one of regret for not having sampled Middle Eastern cuisine before the falafel stand went belly-up; however, the next thought involved making a mental note of the new restaurant, named Osteria Ottimo. Not long after, I was further intrigued when seeing the same restaurant pop up in the Chicago Magazine monthly list of hot eateries to visit (Southwest suburban dining locales don't frequently get mentioned in the big city publications, so we take notice when one does). A $50 gift certificate to the place from the in-laws for Xmas cinched the deal - we would soon be eating new Italian in the 'hood.

We used the occasion of my brother and sister-in-law's impending move to Cincinnati as a pretext for a going-away dinner at Osteria Ottimo this past Saturday evening. I felt relieved that we were finally eating there as its location off the beaten path in a nondescript strip mall made me concerned that it would soon be going the route of its predecessor (thus rendering our gift card worthless). As it turns out, I needn't have worried - the place was packed. After an initial round of cocktails and prosecco (which was mine, by the way - it's not wrong for a grown man to drink sweet sparkling wine at dinner as long as there's no umbrella in it), we ordered up a plate of fried calamari and one of the appetizer specials, prosciutto w/melon slices. I found the calamari to be soggy (not crisp) and therefore not so great, but the prosciutto/melon was delicious (it included shaved Parmesan and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar). Our entrees included soft-shell crab w/cherry tomatoes and arugula, sauteed skatewing w/the same prep as the crab, spicy shrimp diablo w/spinach fettuccine, and cannelloni stuffed with chicken, four cheeses, spinach, and tomato-cream sauce. All parties at the table were quite happy with their entrees. We also managed to choke down a bit of dessert, namely cheesecake and chocolate brownie w/chocolate gelato.

The verdict? We'll definitely be back as soon as we can, next time to sample the house specialty antipasto tray. Mamma mia.....

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