By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher
Be Inkandescent Magazine
Yes, the lingering recession is taking down many restaurants. But those that are thriving have one thing in common: They have a loyal following, excellent food that is consistently delicious, and top-notch service.
That’s the secret to success for Osteria 177, located just a few blocks from the Severn River on Main Street in Annapolis, MD. Tourists and locals flock to this award-winning, authentically Italian bistro owned by Chef Arturo Ottaviano, 42, who hails from Verona, Italy—the hometown of Shakespeare’s legendary Juliet.
What would Juliet order?
“Perhaps the Prosciutto & Melon, followed by the Polla Al Marsala,” suggests Ottaviano, a man whose sultry accent is just part of his charm. Wearing a backward baseball cap, T-shirt and jeans, he is all business when it comes to cooking. “But—like many of my customers—Juliet would also probably be happy to dig into a plate of Gnocchi Casarecci, or the Fettuccine Ai Sapori Siciliani.”
And who wouldn’t.
“The homemade pastas at Osteria are divine, the fish is delicate, the meats are rich and exquisite,” insists Jane Snider, a longtime Annapolitian who counts Osteria 177 as one of her favorite restaurants.
In fact, she and her husband Martin recently dined at Osteria on a Saturday evening in September to celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary.
“We love Osteria, and frequent it for all special occasions—and other times when we want to be assured of an excellent meal,” shares Snider, who started her meal sharing Sacchetti Di Pasta Fresca with Marty (fresh egg pasta filled with pears, ricotta, and a touch of Gorgonzola cheese, sauteed in a Porcini mushroom and Parmigiano cream sauce).
For the main course, she chose the Bransino Alla Mediterranea, a marinated and grilled fish, filleted tableside and finished with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon. Marty had the Costolette Di Agnello Al Rosmarino—grilled fresh domestic Colorado lamb chops topped with a reduction o port wine sauace.
“We have brought many friends there for whom it has become their favorite, too,” Marty says.
What keeps them coming back for more?
“The service is perfect,” says Snider, who is the founding executive director of Annapolis’ Summit School, which serves bright students with dyslexia and other learning differences. “The professional waiters remember from visit to visit what one likes to drink, how to prepare each drink, and what our preferences are for food.
“This is most unique. We have been there with a crowd of 12 and the waiter remembers each person’s preferences, never writing down orders. One always feels well taken care of, and special.”
Best of all, Jane adds, Ottaviano is a generous man.
“He has supported my school’s special event for numerous years by providing lovely food for our guests. He loves what he does, has great pride, and it shows. We are lucky to have such high quality in our city of Annapolis.”
Ottaviano believes the secret to his success is the simplicity of his dishes.
“Sophistication is great—to a point,” says the chef, (pictured above second to left, with his staff) who admits one of his favorite dishes is pizza. “What is most important is the quality of the product. Sauces are great, but if you have a fine piece of beef or fish, you just have to cook it properly to create the perfect dish.”
Don’t like what’s on the menu? No problem, says Ottaviano.
“I can prepare a lot of things that aren’t on the menu, and I am happy to get creative if a customer wants,” he explains. “I don’t want people to get bored. I can be flexible, no problem.”
But then, flexibility and a simple lifestyle are what Ottaviano says he likes most about living and working in Annapolis.
“Annapolis is a beautiful, elegant, and charming city,” Ottaviano says. “It’s manageable, for you can walk everywhere, or get around on a scooter, which is my preferred mode of transportation. And, it doesn’t take long to get to know almost everyone in town. I do love the historical aspects of this place, as well. All in all, I couldn’t be happier.”
Dining Style: Casual Elegant
Cuisine: Italian, Seafood, Steak
Phone: (410) 267-7700 (Reservations are recommended.)
Hours of Operation:
Lunch: Daily: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday-Thursday: 5:00-10:00 p.m., Friday & Saturday: 5:00-11:00 p.m.,
Sunday: 5:00-9:00 p.m.
Payment Options: AMEX, MasterCard, Visa
Dress Code: Business Casual
Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
Additional: Private Banquet Space, Full Bar
Parking: No. Try the nearby parking lots.
For more information, visit www.osteria177.com.
Photo of Marty and Jane Snider, above, by Sally Wern Comport, Art at Large, Inc.