Saturday, April 3, 2010

Osteria Romantica

I went down to visit my Rice University buddy down in San Diego. It's been about a year since we caught up with each other. He invited me to dinner at the Osteria Romantica, carefully chosen by his fellow post docs.

2151 Avenida de la Playa
La Jolla, CA 92037
Ph/Fx: +1 858 551 1221

They made reservations, so we got seated very quickly. Right away, the waiter, a lithe fellow with a pleasant Italian accent, asked if we were ready to order, but there was one more person we were waiting for. Time passed and again we were asked what was our gustatory pleasure, but we were still waiting for the missing postdoc. Alas, it turned out he was not coming and the waiter was more than happy to take our orders whenever we were ready. Some places pressure you to order as soon as you are seated to get their jobs out of the way.

Everyone was happy with their orders. In fact, there began a swapping tasting match with the dishes between two post docs, one who had ordered the linguine mare and fond of seafood.

One post doc from Finland ordered some eggplant dish that was heavily covered in tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. We were then asked if we would like more cheese.

I had ordered the salmon ravioli which sat on a bed of asparagus and delicately topped with black caviar. I had never seen pasta so gorgeous. It passes the aesthetic appeal test. And now for the taste test- there was something somewhat disagreeable to my palette; it might have either been too salmon-y or maybe it was the bitterness of the asparagus. I do appreciate the fact that it was not too cheese-y like many Italian restaurants.

salmon ravioli topped with black caviar

After we ate our meals...that is most of us, we were asked if we would like some coffee. And a few moments later asked if we needed anything else, more coffee perhaps. The post doc that was still eating had said he hadn't managed to start on his coffee, which had in fact cooled, as he was still eating and finishing up his glass of wine, and the waiter insisted on getting him another hot cup.

One of the post docs, the one from Spain, began to choke...I don't know if it was the food or if she was overcoming an illness, but the waiter was kind enough to bring some honey with water without ice. She did, however, complain that the water was not "room temperature" enough as in it was still too cold, even without the ice.

The staff was highly attentive, but not in the way that they are constantly in your face. You feel that you are being well cared for and that your comfort and satisfaction is top priority. The service and ambiance of the restaurant was excellent as was the food; conversations at the table were intriguing with topics such as getting lost hiking in the San Joaquin mountains, learning colorful Spanish words, and eating reindeer meet in Finland. Of course, meals are only as good as the company, which was exceptional.

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