Osteria Radici: Modern Italian Cuisine in New Jersey

In the sleepy little hamlet of Allentown, New Jersey a new interpretation on classic Italian cuisine has created quite a buzz. Osteria Radici, a 24-seat storefront on South Main Street is the perfect combination of old world meets a modern artistic kitchen. When the tiny Osteria opened last fall, it quickly gained a loyal following and garnered a 2018 James Beard Semi-finalist Award as the Best New Restaurant in the country.

Location: 4 South Main Street, Allentown, [amazon_textlink asin=’1402766858′ text=’New Jersey’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’theyums-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a7c5a80b-5dc1-11e8-a724-5b248b814328′].

Menu:  The curated menu is divided into three sections with four to five selections in each. The starters, Al Inizio (at the beginning), the pasta course, Poi (then) and the entrées, Per Seguire (to follow). The best way to enjoy the creativity of Chef Randy Forrester is to select items from each category. There are local and sustainably sourced seafood, poultry, and beef choices as well as vegetarian selections featured on the menu. The produce is organic and heavily sourced from farms in New Jersey following the seasons.

Thoughts:  The thoughtful and knowledgeable staff take the time to explain the menu and the unique experience that is about to unfold, starting with a house made sourdough bread that is crusty, airy and piled in a small paper bag. A bottle of fruity olive oil is served alongside as a condiment.

The ingredients are classic Italian but interpreted differently. The food is light and packs flavors that speak volumes about the time and attention paid to the execution of the dishes. One of the starters, Bigeye Tuna Crudo, sat atop a bagna cauda sauce and a Castelvetrano olive tapenade with hothouse tomatoes. The mix of flavors was delicate but delicious and incredibly fresh.

All the portions of pasta were al dente and lightly sauced with subtle flavors. The Creste De Gallo, a ribbed pasta whose ingredients included [amazon_textlink asin=’B000C06FXE’ text=’speck’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’theyums-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’db94985a-5dc1-11e8-9556-259e39e44d0d’], green grapes, and Parmigiano cheese, was a delicious adventure for the palate. The bite of the pasta and the flavors of the salty [amazon_textlink asin=’B00T564G0A’ text=’speck’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’theyums-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ec753885-6f1d-11e8-bf08-3759c088a8a4′] along with a sweet burst of grape and tangy cheese elevated the rustic pasta into an extraordinary combination.

The Moulard Duck was served rare with crispy kale and artichokes drizzled with agrodolce, a traditional sweet and sour sauce made from a reduction of vinegar and sugar. The flavors of the duck married beautifully with the smoky kale and tart agrodolce.

The Per Finire (dessert) we chose, was a peanut butter budino, a creamy peanut butter custard studded with dark chocolate chunks and buttery shortbread crumbles mixed with sea salt. In two words, it was delicious richness.

Since the menu changes seasonally, these items will vary with the seasons and with the availability of the farmers and fisherman. The adventure will always await and will astonish with each seating.

Prices:  Al Inizio ranges from $9 – $18, Poi ranges from $15 – $17, Per Seguire ranges from $29 – 33 dollars but will change with the selections. Desserts are all priced at $9.00.

Jeanine Consoli
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