East 12th Osteria's Brunch is More Than Eggs and Pancakes
Situated on the unassuming corner of 12th Street and 1st Avenue, East 12th Osteria can be easy to miss. Even with its gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows, the place seems to have a generic quality to it. But don't be fooled—the food here can be quite good—and as a brunch spot it has something to offer. It's easy to get a table during peak hours so you can enjoy a meal next to the sunbathed windows and still have plenty of elbowroom.
If you're looking for more than just standard egg dishes, then you've come to the right place. There's a Brunch Prix Fixe menu ($23) and a brunch a la carte menu, both filled with a variety of Italian dishes. The prix fixe includes a pastry plate, an main, and a drink of your choice. If you order the orange juice, it'll be freshly squeezed right at the bar.
On the day I visited, the Pastry Plate had croissants, mini blueberry muffins, and chocolate croissants, all served warm and baked in-house by Chef Deiaco.
Even if you don't opt for the prix fixe, you'll always get the generous Bread Basket. Filled with a variety of housemade bread, it's also straight-from-the-oven warm and accompanied with a side of olive oil.
Bored with French toast and pancakes but want something on the sweeter side? Order the Strapazzato all'Uvetta ($17), Chef Deiaco's version of "shredded pancakes" from the Italian province of Alto Adige. While the classic recipe yields a thin and flat crepe-lie cake, Deiaco makes his fluffier and caramelizes the edges. The fruit accompaniment changes based on the season; right now it's grapes and sultanas, but in a few months it could be cherries or apples. That fruit adds most of the sweetness to the moist-but-not-sweet pancake.
For something savory, the Tonnarelli alla Carbonara ($18) makes a fitting brunch pasta. Deiaco makes his own noodles and cooks them al dente. A golden sauce clings nicely to them; perched atop is an egg yolk in a pancetta cup a garnish best stirred right in.
Another standout is the Pesce di Mare Caldo su Soffice di Polenta ($19), a dish common in the Veneto region of Italy. A mix of plump shrimp, mussels, calamaretti, and a firm scallop sit on a bed of soft, velvety polenta. A red sauce made from seafood stock, white wine, herbs, and chili pepper spices up the porridge.
It's a brunch dish that'd be just as welcome on any lunch or dinner menu, and it goes to show how Deiaco is bringing some much-needed variety to New York's brunch landscape.
About the author: Nicole Lam is based in NYC and eats carbs whenever possible. She is always adamant about having dessert. Follow her travels and eats on Instagram @niclam