166 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY 14202 / (716) 858 – 3118
Price: $$, $$$
Hours: 11am-10pm Mon – Thurs, 11am- 11pm Fri, 5pm-11pm Sat, Sunday Closed
The new “Italian Pub” is smartly decorated with unique touches that are appealing to the senses. Imagine light jazz dancing past your ears and strong, long stemmed glassware reflecting the natural light flooding through tall windows.
Now this was at lunch time, so I can imagine the natural light scenario is somewhat different after dark, but I’m sure the transparency continues to bode well for the ambiance into the evening.
Starter: Stuffed Pepper Risotto Cake, crispy, lightly breaded risotto cakes with herbs, banana pepper, Italian sausage and parmesan with spicy cream sauce ($8). These were delicious, an excellent way to get your risotto fix for the day. They came recommended by our server, who was eager to discuss the menu items and help any way he could. Osteria 166 offers outdoor seating on a casual sidewalk patio, and a narrow bar near the entrance with some high top tables, which add to the unique feel of the eatery.
Entrees: Seeing as it was lunch time, the sandwich corner of the menu pulled us in offering a bonus of truffle oil and parmesan kettle chips with each entrée – worth mentioning here. They were outstanding. As a side to my scrumptious truffle-kettle-chip-goodness, I ordered the Eggplant Sandwich – crispy, breaded eggplant with garlic aioli, fresh tomato, greens, with tomato pesto & goat cheese. ($8) No bread involved in this sandwich, and no need. Each ingredient burst with flavor and the breaded eggplant was excellent.
The goat cheese was a bit much for me by the end, but if you’re a fan of goat cheese and like experimenting with new combinations of flavors, this sandwich is for you.
My companion debated between the Porchetta – slow roasted Italian pork with house rub, garlic, asiago cheese and arugula on ciabatta and the Woppy Joe. He ended up selecting the Woppy Joe! to accompany his kettle chips- Nani’s chopped meatballs in her famous Sunday sauce with mozzarella on a sesame roll. ($9) The plate came with mangled meatball (in a good way) spilling out the sides of this Sloppy Joe style sandwich begging to be devoured. And devoured it was. The Sunday sauce held a touch of sweetness and a nice deep flavor.
Menu Items missed: The pasta dishes looked enticing including Sausage and Campanelle, house Italian sausage with rapini, garlic, tomato and parmesan in a cream sauce over campanelle (lunch $9/entrée $16) and Shellfish Fra Diavalo, clams, mussels and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce over saffron tagliatelli (lunch$12/entrée$19). The menu offers diners family style service for the pasta dishes, priced per person which is authentic to the Italian culture and will ensure that you are able to fully experience the culture and the food. My hats off to the person who added that great touch. If it were up to me, all restaurants would offer this option. Of course, not everyone likes sharing food with the rest of their party – also understandable. Other menu items included Fire Roasted Beet Carpaccio (lunch$6/entrée $9) and Flat Iron Pizzas with Steak & Spinach or Pancetta, sausage & Prosciutto.
Scene: Late afternoon on a Tuesday is no time to judge the capacity of a restaurant but I can tell you that it looks like a fun spot for dinner &/or drinks. Plus the outdoor seating is nice and inviting. As we ate, they were setting up for a larger party, about 20 or so, all at one big table, and I couldn’t help but notice what a great setting this would be for a family get together or special occasion.
Service: Our server was attentive and interested in sharing his knowledge of each aspect of the menu. Very helpful and pleasant.
Beverages: A bold wine rack offers decor as well as a nice selection of Italian wines and otherwise. We didn’t have any wine but the they are reasonably priced with about 30 choices of both red & white. You can find the usual at the bar.
Final thoughts: I am impressed by the little touches of genuine Italian culture that are displayed at Osteria 166. This “Italian Pub” is sure to be an asset to Buffalo as the city develops.
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