166 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202
On the corner of Mohawk and Franklin in the shadow of the Convention Center, Nick Pitillo has created one of the most interesting new meeting places in the downtown area and one of the finest new Italian style restaurants in Western New York. In Italy the name itself, Osteria, literally means public house, inn, or casual meeting place. It is a labor of love for “Uncle” Nick Pitillo and his family, Chef Jeff Cooke, and the entire staff. The bar area has an unmistakable big city vibe, but the attitude is classic Buffalo friendly. When the weather is fine, the windows open wide to Mohawk Place and outdoor patio seating where evenings often feature live music by the likes of 2014 Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Inductee Geno McManus and guitarist Michael DiSanto. While the bar is typically full of “Who’s Who” of downtown Buffalo, many smartly dressed in business suits or dresses, the dining area is casual and comfortable, where old style black and white family pictures on the wall remind you this is a family restaurant.
The temptation to over eat is great with this amazingly varied and unique menu of Italian delights. While there is plenty of pasta and sauce on the menu, this is not your typical spaghetti and meatball kind of place. Chef Jeff has presented an interesting variety of Italian styled meats and seafood, uniquely prepared and presented. The wine list is varied and plentiful. Our wine was a lovely Argentine Malbec, Finca el Origen. On this particular outing, Mr. and Ms. Diner split an appetizer and an entrée, which was plenty satisfying for our big appetites. We started with “The Carl”. The menu describes “The Carl” as Italian Sausage, topped with a giant meatball, sautéed banana peppers, onions and melted Mozzarella cheese. The only way for us to describe “The Carl” is a giant tower of meat smothered in all kinds of Italian goodness. Think meat lasagna without the noodles. We also aren’t buying that this contains plain “melted Mozzarella cheese” as it is far too creamy and rich, which goes exceptionally well with the light tomato sauce. “The Carl” is a meat lover’s dream!
Next up was the Eggplant and Sun-Dried Tomato Ravioli, featuring roasted eggplant, Ricotta cheese, sun-dried tomato pesto, crushed tomato marinara and eggplant caponatta. We can imagine “Nanni” in the kitchen rolling, stuffing and sealing this pasta delight, cooked to al dente perfection. You can actually see the fork marks around the edges. This is probably the best ravioli Mr. Diner has ever had. What a truly satisfying meal this was. We couldn’t stop talking about it all evening.
We highly recommend Osteria 166. If you are from the suburbs and haven’t been downtown lately, Osteria 166 is your excuse to come back to the city. If you are from the city and you haven’t been there, it is time to try this treasure in your own backyard.