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Dining Review of L’Osteria in Cranston, RI – An Italian Restaurant Gem

We’ve mentioned L’Osteria before in our ramblings, and were just there again this past Saturday night.  It is a small, cozy Italian restaurant surrounded by others in the Knightsville section of Cranston.  L’Osteria is our favorite of the bunch.  We’ve been there thirty times or more, and have no plans to stop any time soon.  Why?  Let me count the ways.  First there is atmosphere, and we love the cozy, quiet feel on weekdays as well as the more boisterous bistro feel on Friday 0605131800dand Saturday nights.  Second there is service, and the waitstaff is attentive and very experienced.  They might make a mistake on a busy night but they’ll recognize it and fix it, and that’s all you can ask for.  Third is the food, which is flat out delicious and incredibly consistent, and I’m talking over ten years of being consistent.   Lastly I’ll mention the value, because I think it is very fairly priced, and they almost always have restaurant.com certificates available to even make it more of a value.  It would rank as one of our favorite restaurants, right up there with Gracie’s and Mill’s Tavern in Providence.  They are very different.  If I had to pick one special dinner it would be at Gracie’s.  But we go to L’Osteria far, far more often.

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Voted Best Neighborhood Bistro.

You might meet Mario, the owner, on any given night as he stops by to say hello.  Jack, Janice and Terry have been serving food and drink for a while and all know their craft well.  I don’t know the chef’s name, but whoever it is they are excellent.  The menu is extensive with many classics and some twists.

Setup for a large party.

Setup for a large party.

You won’t find the ubiquitous veal or chicken parmesan, but you will find veal or chicken a multitude of ways.  Cheri’s favorite is the Chicken Puttanesca.  My favorite veal is the Saltimbocca, with a little prosciutto and mozzorella and a divine sauce.  They’ll generally give you a veggie and mashed potatoes as sides, but you can order double veggies (which we do) or a pasta side as well.  There are times I just make something up and they’ll sort of do it, but with the numerous specials and regular items it is unlikely that will be necessary.  Another favorite of mine is the Seafood Tagliatelle, but I have them put it over linguini instead.  If they have the lamb chop special always get that as it is an amazingly thick chop and well prepared.  Any time they have a steak special you can’t go wrong.

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The small but cozy bar area.

There’s a small bar but it is well stocked and Terry makes a pretty mean Cosmopolitan.  The wine list is not extensive, but it has a fairly good variety and there are a lot of reasonably priced choices in the $28- $45 range.  The Wente Cabernet Sauvignon was a good choice this past weekend.  At the high end of that range we prefer the Cesari Mara Valpolicella Ripasso, which is an excellent wine and very consistent vintage to vintage.  You can spring for almost $100 to get a Col D’orcia Brunello, but that is as big as it gets.  It’s not about spending a lot here, it’s about having a great meal.

The desserts are excellent as well, with the Tiramisu one of our favorites.  Our son loves the Torta Della Nona, which has a delicate lemon flavor and is a great way to finish a savory meal.  They’ll whip up a cappuccino or expresso, or regular coffee, to finish off the night.

You’ll need reservations on a Friday or Saturday night, as the restaurant is very small.  This past Saturday it was fairly quiet until about 7:00, but they were booked out, turning people away, and the crowd rolled in at 7 and filled the place.  If you go Tuesday thru Thursday you can usually walk in.  They are not open on Sunday or Monday.

After so many visits I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad meal at L’Osteria.  We’ve had a dirty glass here or there, and had to wait on busy nights, but that is something you’re going to run into everywhere once in a while.  Here you’re always going to run into excellent food in a cozy atmosphere and friendly, knowledgeable staff.   We’d rather go here than any place on Federal Hill in Providence.

A votre sante!

L'Osteria on Urbanspoon

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