A couple of weeks ago, The Bowery, which opened last year on Colborne Street with Tawfik Shehata at the helm, was quietly transformed into Osteria 55. Uniq Lifestyle Entertainment Group is still behind the space, but they’ve brought in a new front-of-house manager and consultant, John Chetti, of the always-packed Queen Margherita Pizza. With Chetti in charge, the space has gone from a somewhat nebulous “punk-meets-farm” concept to an unequivocally Italian osteria, open for both speedy corporate lunches and dinner.
The interior has changed a little, swapping the large booths for more intimate two-seater tables. The walls show off the same exposed brick, and the open kitchen is highlighted by bright red subway tiles. Downstairs, the basement offers the plush banquettes of the old Bowery with stools and small cocktail tables that, along with a bar, give it an underground speakeasy feel.
As far as the menu goes, chef Anthony Figliano (Jump, Atlas One) keeps his Italian fare rustic with a range of salads, antipasti, pastas and centro travola (centre table) dishes, large family-style plates intended for sharing, such as a whole sea bass grilled on charcoal ($22), vegetable sides ($7-$8) and specials like a dry-aged 24-ounce porterhouse or a pig’s head. Pastas are all hand-cut and made in-house from scratch, like a pappardelle that’s served with creamy truffle wild mushrooms ($17). Other dishes include an asparagus risotto ($15) and a “tongue ’n’ cheek” dish: beer-braised veal cheek ravioli and crispy calf’s tongue ($20). The wine menu has expanded under Chetti to offer a large selection of Ontario, Italian and Californian wines, including a dozen by the glass and under $40 a bottle. Chetti is setting a high standard for the place—if all goes according to plan, he’s hoping Osteria 55 will be the next Buca.
Osteria 55, 55 Colborne St., 416-901-2332, osteria55.com