L’Osteria offers up a fresh new dining experience, says Sammy Milton
Upon entering the slick glass doors into a wonderfully scented warmth, it is abundantly clear that L’Osteria has found its new home in the heart of Bristol. Located in the stylish Quakers Friars district of Cabot Circus, the brand-new restaurant comprises a glass-fronted modern hub with distinctive outdoor lights to welcome you in.
Once sat down, we took in our surroundings; exposed bricks line the walls with a light show bearing the words ‘Cucina’ across the far side of the space, denoting the unique Italian style the restaurant lives by. The bar fills the front of the room, with impressively lit glass shelves bearing all manner of alcoholic delicacies, cocktail apparatus and glasses. The kitchen is set out in an open-plan style meaning you can watch the chefs creating their authentic masterpieces.
And what delights they were! The staff were warm and friendly, more than happy to help with explaining the generous menu and on-hand with an excellent knowledge of the food and wine list. We shared two of the starters from the antipasti section; a crisp bruschetta loaded with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil (£3.45 for a small portion) and a mixed board of olives, pickled onions, chorizo, rocket, Italian cheese and ham (£9.45). A good size, these were also very reasonably priced and left us excited for the main course.
L’Osteria specialise in their pizza and pasta, and their menu is large enough to please even the pickiest of eaters. On our waitress’s recommendation, we went all in and had one of their pizzas – the style of which is large enough to be shared. This sets L’Osteria apart from other Italian restaurants and offers a very forward-thinking way of eating, something which I feel makes the dining experience all the more intimate and fun. You can opt for half-and-half toppings too, so no one misses out on their favourite. We went with half braccio di ferro (spinach, egg, cheese and garlic) and half prosciutto e funghi (shoulder of ham, fresh mushrooms and cheese), and we weren’t disappointed. Coming in at £8.85, this was a great price too! The toppings were fresh and plentiful, the dough light and even and everything was delicious. I only wish we’d had room to try the pasta.
We managed to squeeze in dessert though, and how glad of this we were. Wanting to try something of everything, we went for the smaller sizes of some of the offered dolci; a tiramisu, panna cotta and crema di fragola al mascarpone (fresh strawberries with mascarpone cream). The tiramisu was well-set with just the right amount of coffee liqueur and dustings of chocolate powder; the panna cotta, a dish that can be hard to perfect, was of a brilliant consistency and flavour with a tart strawberry topping that stood out and the strawberries with mascarpone was fresh, juicy and delicious. You can choose two smaller desserts for £4.25 and they are all excellent and all authentic, providing the perfect end to a very satisfying meal.
L’Osteria has other restaurants doing terrifically well across Europe, but this is the team’s first opening in the UK, and on behalf of Bristol, I can confirm that we are grateful that they have chosen to open in our city. This is a fantastically warm, friendly and delicious dining experience at very good value, so I’d suggest you all stop what you are doing right now and book a table!