What: Eduardo Vargas strikes again, this time with two partners from Toronto, and a simple Italian angle. One works the hospitality side of things – arranging menus, directing staff, general managing. The other (Zoltan – you’ll know him immediately) works the wine list and first-floor lounge space like he’s on television. Vargas makes sure it’s stylish, comfortable, and good value.
Look: Vertical. It’s a slender space. The tan first-floor lounge and bar focuses heavily on wine and antipasti, and there's a crudo bar serving Italian-style raw fish and oysters. This is Zoltan’s domain. The second-floor dining room is exposed grey brick, polished wood beams, and mod accents in the wallpaper and wicker screens. A loft ceiling dominates the third floor, used for private parties and wine dinners, and there’s a cozy nook tucked into a small fourth floor.
Food: On the first floor it’s cheeses, cured meats, marinated vegetables, oysters, and other wine-friendly things to snack on. Upstairs it’s simple Italian with a few contemporary touches, served in a novel way: a ¥188 set comes with an antipasti and a pasta of Osteria’s choosing, followed by a main course you pick from a short list. The first two courses are limitless. Want more of the grilled calamari with anchovy vinaigrette, or gnocchi with braised rabbit and mushroom reduction? Just ask. They’re still tweaking the menu before a late November grand opening, but last week's mains included a roast pork loin and a yellowtail snapper with broad beans, corn, and parsley sauces. They also come with vegetables: a rocket, walnut, and gorgonzola salad or grilled potatoes featured in the first few days.
Wine: Given just as much attention as the food, and done in a similarly novel way. Instead of an Italian focus, the heart of the wine list is split into two sections: “Osteria Value” and “Osteria Value Plus”. In the former, a 2.5oz pour runs ¥28, a glass is ¥58, a bottle ¥248, and a flight of three 2.5oz glasses is ¥78. In the latter, it goes ¥48, ¥92, ¥458; ¥138 for the flight. Taken together, that’s more than fifty labels available by the glass – everything from Argentine cabernet francs, to viognier, to choices from the Spanish Ribera del Duero.
Bill: ¥200-250 per person for dinner without wine – about the same price as snacking downstairs and sampling five or six different wines.