3835 Germantown Pike
Ensconced in the digs formerly occupied by the Evansburg
Inn, the new Osteria Evansburg is well
named. An osteria is a casual eatery
serving up hearty Italian fare in comfortable, unpretentious surroundings; and
with its rustic bar and bright, airy dining rooms, this convivial establishment
fills the bill quite nicely. Indeed, proprietors Roberto Mastrocola -- former
owner of nearby La Fontana -- and Peter Paolucci -- late of the Patio in Lansdale
-- have put together a most attractive culinary package.
Your first port-of-call will undoubtedly be the bar/lounge.
Here locals hold court, sipping a brew or availing themselves of one of the
reasonably priced wines by the glass ($5.00; $4.00 during happy hour). The
Colli Chardonnay and Terre del Principe Chianti -- both of Italian descent -- are
quite good. The restaurant also sports a compact wine list that marries well
with the comforting cuisine. Try a bottle of Bergaglio Gavi ($33.00) or the
equally pleasant Zacca Montepulciano "Riserva" ($32.00).
The crostini di
pomodoro ($7.00), perfectly toasted Italian bread adorned with chopped
tomatoes and tincture of basil, is an excellent opening move. Since the portion
is also prodigious -- and an ample house salad is included with your entrée --
sharing among two or three persons might be the better part of valor.
For those with a penchant for the pleasures of the sea, the inordinately
tender baby calamari with fresh tomato and basil ($6.00) is a marvelous
prelude... ditto the baby mussels ($7.00). They swim to table in either a red or
white sauce, but I would highly recommend the latter: plump bivalves bathed in
an invigorating broth of lemon, white wine, basil, and sautéed garlic. The
littleneck clams ($7.00), also presented in either red or white, provide a
delectable variation on the theme.
My favorite starter, however, is actually a side dish: fresh
sautéed escarole embellished with cannelloni beans and succulent sweet Italian
sausage ($7.00). A specialty of the house... and simply not to be missed.
When it comes to entrees, there are, in my book, two acid
tests for rustic, regional Italian eateries: the first is the somewhat plebian
but always enjoyable eggplant Parmesan ($12.00); the second is the ever-popular
veal saltimbocca ($18.00). How these dishes fare -- or fail -- are inevitably
indicative of the overall quality of the restaurant's cuisine. Deceptively
simple, yes... yet so easily mucked up. But I'm happy to report that Osteria Evansburg passes with flying
The eggplant here is lightly breaded, nicely seasoned, and cooked
through but not at all mushy at the core. And the accompanying side of
spaghetti is another strong indicator that all is as it should be. The pasta is
prepared al dente and is enveloped in
a rich sauce that, atypically, doesn't leave a watery red residue at the bottom
of the bowl. The veal is of excellent quality, firm yet tender, and embellished
with a perfectly complementary white wine sauce imbued with sage.
On the seafood docket, the tuna and salmon (both $16.00) are
beautifully grilled. The former is prepared puttanesca style -- rife with capers,
olives, and anchovies -- and the latter is consummated with a spirited Dijon
mustard sauce. You might also consider the fruitti
di mare ($19.00), shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, and calamari in a red
or white sauce pillowed on a mountain of linguine.
The kitchen also does a very nice job with chicken. Be sure
to try the "Chicken Osteria" ($16.00), a plump, moist sautéed breast replete
with broccoli rabe, topping of fresh mozzarella & marinara sauce, and savory
bed of mashed potatoes. And the "Chicken Francese" ($15.00) is yet another
winning presentation. The cutlet is thin yet moist, the egg dip and flour
applied judiciously, and the lemon-white wine sauce a light and delicate
Dessert-wise, the tiramisù and cannoli are both made on the
premises, and they are top-notch. Other items, shipped in from Classic
Desserts, are also quite good. And be sure to wash them down with a potent jolt
of excellent espresso.
If you can't make the scene for dinner, you might want to
stop by for lunch and feast on such savory sandwiches as chicken or meatball parmigiana, grilled sweet Italian
sausage, or an "Osteria Hoagie: sharp provolone, prosciutto, lettuce &
tomato, and roasted peppers (all $7.00).
The food at Osteria
Evansburg isn't about to set any new culinary standards. But, then again,
you don't expect it to. What you do expect -- and receive -- is rustic,
reasonably priced regional Italian cuisine that is lovingly prepared and nicely
presented. Throw in a comfortable, convivial atmosphere and casual, friendly
service and you have a winner on all counts.
The Artful Diner
Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.