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.
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