Sherman's Food Adventures: The Italian Osteria & Cheese Bar

The Italian Osteria & Cheese Bar

Even though I've never lived in Langley nor have do I live near Langley, I've always had my pulse on the restaurant scene there.  You might wonder why I would care so much about restaurants in Langley...  Well, I've always had friends out there and in fact, all through University, I would visit Aussie often and then after that, Nikita and Bluebeard through the early 2000's til present.  Let's just say that the restaurant scene has come a long way since then and now we are beginning to see places that can be considered good.  The JRG group has recognized the potential of the area and have pegged many of their restaurants throughout the city.  Their newest is The Italian offering up legit pastas and Neapolitan pizza.

We headed out there with Costanza's family to get a good feel for the place.  We ended up eating quite early and hit their happy hour and took advantage of their drink specials and also their $10.00 pizza deal.  But before we hit the pizza and pastas, we got 2 orders of the Caesar Salad for the table.  As simple as salads can be sometimes, this one was done right.  The romaine was fresh and crisp while the dressing wasn't heavy nor was the salad overdressed.  I thought the parmesan yogurt dressing to be tangy and light while aided by the dehydrated olives (which provided a rich saltiness).  Finishing off the salad was a sprinkling of honey and herb croutons.

The kiddies wanted the basic Margherita featuring fior di latte, San Marzano tomato sauce, Tuscan olive oil and fresh basil.   Prepared in a 900 degree wood-fired oven, the pizza was well-charred with leoparding.  It was very crispy all the way to the centre while being properly seasoned.  I would've liked to see the crust to be a little more tender in the middle though.  Ingredients were legit and the flavours were right there as well.  They also shared the Prawn Genovese which was also the table favourite.  It was topped with pesto, oven-dried tomatoes, grana padano, mozzarella and basil.  The combination was aromatic with a good tang from the tomatoes and cheesy.  Done just right, the pieces of prawn were meaty while still tender with a snap.

For the adults, we went for the Truffle Mushroom comprised of thyme roasted mushrooms, truffle cream, mozzarella and baby arugula.  As much as we do not prefer the overuse of truffle oil, this pizza was nicely balanced.  With just a hint, the truffle cream was definitely impactful without creating an overwhelming earthiness.  There was a proper amount of flavourful mushrooms to live up to its namesake while the thyme was evident with each bite.  On top, the arugula added a certain brightness to balance off the heaviness of the cream and cheese.  I thought the most interesting pizza was the Wagyu Carpaccio with pecorino romano, dehydrated olives, arugula, oven-dried grape tomatoes and truffle aioli.  If you can imagine, it was beef carpaccio on a pizza crust.   Sliced thin where it literally melted in our mouths, the wagyu didn't disappoint.  The complimentary flavours were on point with a creamy saltiness accented by a tanginess.  Only issue with this pizza was the temperature as the crust couldn't be hot, otherwise it would cook the meat.

Onto our pastas, the best of the bunch was definitely the Ricotta Gnocchi Pomodoro bathed in fresh grape tomato sauce, garlic, basil, Tuscan olive oil and grana padano.  These were large and pillowy soft while still retaining its texture.  They were seared nicely where there was a caramelized smokiness.  We thought the sauce was perfect since it was not strong enough to overwhelm the delicate gnocchi, but was present enough to provide flavour and aromatics.  It was a nice combination of fresh tomatoes with the simple accents of garlic an basil.  The kids really wanted the Classic Alfredo with chicken featuring linguine in white wine cream and grana padano.  This was also good where the fresh pasta was al dente and while the cream sauce was rich, it wasn't overly heavy either.  The ample amount of chicken could've been a bit less cooked though.

We really wanted to like the Spaghetti Carbonara, however, it was far too salty for our tastes.  Yes, we understand that the use of speck and guanciale would ensure that the dish would have a certain saltiness, but we found it excessive.  On the other hand, no one could accuse the plate as bland or boring.  There was definitely the meaty saltiness from the aforementioned cured meats in addition to the free-range egg yolks, pecorino romano and fresh black pepper.  I actually enjoyed this pasta despite the salt (mostly because I like salty), but the rest of the table didn't feel the same way.  Also overly salty was the Braised Shortrib Pappardelle which interestingly was more balanced due to the spiciness in the San Marzano tomato sauce.  I agreed that it had a salty finish, but for me personally, I didn't mind it too much.  Again, the fresh pasta was al dente while the generous amount of shortrib was tender.  In the end, we were pretty stuff and came away satisfied.  We liked how much thought and effort was put into bringing a restaurant like The Italian out to Walnut Grove.  With a few tweaks to the pizza crust and the seasoning for the pastas, they food could rival spots in Vancouver.

The Good:
- Decent portions for the price
- No absence of impactful flavours
- Family-friendly

The Bad:
- Pizza crust was a little dry
- Pastas could use less salt


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