Osteria 166 is a sexy and sleek place in Downtown Buffalo that offers an excellent bite to eat.
Osteria 166 reminds me of that ever popular Frank Sinatra song: “Nice work if you can get it, and if you get it, won’t you tell me how!”
During a pasta craving on a Friday night, I really wanted to try Osteria 166 and talked the hubby into it. I’ve seen the somewhat large restaurant in passing, and it was Friday Downtown, so I didn’t think much about not getting a table; maybe a few minutes wait tops. We got to the area, paid for parking in the back, and walked in to an hour and a half wait time. There were a few empty tables in the dining area that were unseated without menus, which led me to believe they were short staffed. The bar was overcrowded and two bar tables were taken up by a small guitar set up, which was way too loud for a 7 pm dinner time, but regardless of excuses, neither my husband nor I wanted to wait that long, so we walked to the nearby Century Grill and had a great dinner, but I still really wanted to try Osteria 166.
A few weekends ago my husband and I had tickets for Buffalo On Tap. It was at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, so we paid for parking in the same lot behind Osteria 166 and spent nearly 3 hours sampling amazing craft brews and chatting with vendors. While I didn’t intend to drink much, common sense had me thinking I should not drive. Always one to listen to that little voice that says “Driving’s not a good idea right now,” my husband and I ran across the street for some Osteria before the entire party let out.
It was just minutes before 9 when we walked into the bar and there was still a thirty minute wait for a table in the back dining area. Or we could sit at one of the tables in the bar if we could grab one. As luck would have it, we could, so I let the hostess know and she gave us menus.
In our pleasantly buzzed mood, the husband and I had plenty of time to look over the menu, and as we waited, I checked-in on Yelp. By doing so, I received a Yelp offer for two glasses of wine and a flat iron pizza for $16. We decided to take advantage of that, and also I really wanted to try the Eggplant & Sun-Dried Tomato Ravioli.
After several minutes without a server, I made my way back to the hostess stand and alerted her to the fact that we were waiting for a server, and if she needed to persuade someone, please tell a server we’re really good tippers. Shortly after I sat down, a server headed our way through the crowded bar area with glasses of water and a big smile.
We placed our orders and each got a glass of Malbec wine. Honestly, the Yelp offer was a huge win because each glass of wine was $8 and the flat iron pizza was $13, so that offer basically gave us a free pizza! The wine was good, but since I was the driver, I decided perhaps the husband could enjoy the rest of his Saturday evening with my glass.
In pretty good time the server squeezed her way through the bar area to our table with entrees. The Eggplant & Sun-Dried Tomato Ravioli is made with a few large ravioli stuffed with roasted eggplant, ricotta cheese, and sun-dried tomato pesto, topped with crushed tomato marinara and eggplant caponatta. As the experience had lacked up to this point, this ravioli was the saving grace! It was warm, filling, and so flavorful that I relished every bite. I don’t like eggplant, so when I order it as a meal and love it, I know the restaurant knows how to make vegetarian food right. And man, does Osteria know how to make it right! Definitely a winning dish.
My husband ordered the Flat Iron Carlito Pizza which was made with crushed meatball, house-made Italian sausage, banana peppers (which he requested be left off), onions, mozzarella, and Sunday Sauce. He absolutely loved it! He was very impressed with the meat, the sauce wasn’t too heavy, the crust was crispy and mostly perfect. One portion of the underside of the crust had burned when it was in the oven which made that bit of crust bitter, but by the time he got to that part, he was full anyways, so we didn’t see the point of complaining about it. Besides, we had that Yelp offer, which basically got us the pizza for free anyways, so there was no reason to make anyone’s evening suck by bringing up a slightly burned crust. But I can bring it up here: our free pizza’s crust was partially burned. Whatever, even a small section of bitter pizza crust couldn’t ruin the rest of the food or the enjoyable evening we had at the Convention Center.
Our server came back over, still as pleasant as she was when first taking our order, and upon an agreement she waited at our table while we got out cash to pay our bill so she wouldn’t have to push her way through the melee of loud, swaying bar peeps. My husband and I accounted for the menu price of the wine, the pizza, and the ravioli, tipped her based on that (woman of my word, I promise) and headed out.
So all in all, how did Osteria 166 old up?
- Call in and make a reservation for the dining are. Our experience and other friends who dined in the same section a week later were both bad service experiences, so plan accordingly and make certain you’ll get seated right away in the dining area.
- Once we finally got a server, she was great, brought our drinks in good time, and the food came out in about what I would expect for a busy night at 9:20 pm. I hate that I felt like I needed to bait the hostess with “I promise I’m a good tipper” in order to get someone to serve us, but apparently it paid off and our server definitely wasn’t upset when we handed her the bill with no change.
- The prices were decent. For the value, I’d say it’s fair.
- The food itself was amazing! The flat bread pizza crust was burnt in a section, but the toppings were excellent and the serving temperature and presentation was perfect.
- There were plenty of vegetarian options to choose from: Appetizers, Soups and Salads, Pasta, and Flat Iron Pizza sections all had something to choose from, and the specials looked to have an option as well.
- The bar area is way too loud and crowded, but once it thins out, the bartenders are helpful to the diners eating in their area by refilling water glasses and clearing dishes. It was a nice touch, but didn’t happen until there was serious lag in orders and the guys behind the bar could even catch their breath.
I’ll be going back to Osteria 166, but it’s a matter of when. I’m not thrilled with the service; no one really seems to be (and that’s the service in general, it doesn’t seem to be any specific server as they’ve been individually nice), so this will remain a kind of place that I could attend with a giddy buzz and really enjoy a long casual evening with friends I haven’t seen in ages who would be sitting and talking for hours anyways.
So, as Frank would say, “Nice work if you can get it, and if you get it, won’t you tell me how!”