Deliberately dignified, the restaurant boasts a simple and sparse menu comprised only of house specialties. Osteria Bel Sogno might be a little hard to pronounce at first, but after one meal, the name will roll off your tongue.
Roughly translated the name means tavern of the beautiful dream and it’s well deserved. Between the attentive service and the lavish dishes, the atmosphere of Osteria is intoxicating. A large mural graces one wall, a rustic peasant scene with bright blues and greens, that provides a visual feast against the lush dark wood wainscoting and chair rails. Sleek granite tables, crisp linens and silverware provide a fresh dinner setting, while the golden walls and rich woods provide a classic yet cozy feel. Modern touches like the glass divider that separates the dining area from the kitchen are warmed up by homey touches like old-fashioned street lamps and an entryway topped with terracotta shingling.
The cuisine of Osteria stays comfortably within Italian traditions, but takes classic and familiar dishes onto another level, with gourmet touches and creative flavor combinations. Loaves of freshly baked bread begin the meal and are served with both butter and a complex olive dipping oil filled with spices and pepper flakes. Thank goodness the high cost of bread hasn’t affected this restaurant yet. It’s still one of the few places that will still provide you with multiple baskets full of bread!
Choose from a variety of appetizers including portobello torre (roasted portobello mushrooms filled with mozzarella cheese and roasted peppers, $7.95) and calamari napoletani (sautéed squid with green peas in seasoned marinara sauce, $7.95). The caprese (thick slices of tomatoes topped with fresh mozzarella and glazed with a basil pesto sauce, $.6.95). The whole dish is then elegantly decorated with a rich vinaigrette.
For salads, try the insalata gorgonzola (a pile of mixed greens with gorgonzola, poached pears and toasted walnuts along with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, $7.95). The insalata alla cesare (a perfect interpretation of the popular salad, with crisp romaine lettuce nicely chopped and stacked high with baked croutons and a dusting of parmesan, $7.95).
Main entrees include gamberi alla griglia (herb-crusted jumbo shrimp baked in a lemon garlic sauce, $17.95) and linguine puttanesca (topped with olives, capers and anchovies in a fresh tomato sauce, $12.95). The ravioli aurora (a creamy ricotta filling is indulgently complimented by its tomato cream sauce, $10.95), while the penne pommodoro e basilico (a no-nonsense classic pasta with red sauce prepared perfectly, $10.95). The capellini al granchio e spinaci features a bowl of angel hair pasta topped with fresh lump crabmeat, cherry tomatoes and spinach in a white garlic sauce ($13.95).
To finish off the meal, try the homemade crème brulee ($6). This generously portioned delicacy features a crispy caramelized sugar crust that hides sumptuous vanilla cream custard underneath. Served with fresh strawberries and a dusting of sugar, this decadent dessert is the perfect finale. If you’re especially good, you might just get offered a homemade limoncello that’s served complementary by the BYOB and provides a sweet, sour and potent end to the dining experience.