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January 8, 2008 | Frank Bonanno
The new restaurant—Osteria Marco—just got reviewed by Jason Sheehan. I found out it
was coming when I was in Jersey for the holidays and Westword sent photographers by
the restaurant. It’s scary—knowing a writer came in completely undetected (three times),
knowing I wasn’t even at Marco the last time he stopped in, not knowing how he felt
about the experience. Picked up a copy as early as I could get my hands on one. I wish
that food critics didn’t affect me, but they do. A) It is a true, objective response to a
dining experience and b) newspapers have the power to direct major traffic our way. A
bad review would torture me for weeks. Months even.
This is a good review (you really should come by yourself sometime). One clarification:
Jason thinks we used “a lot money” to open the place. I only wish.
I’d mentioned before that my dream spot would have whole suckling pig (we’re doing
that at Marco on Sunday nights), and that we’d make our own cheeses and cure our own
meats (doing that, too). I thought those would be the selling points. They’re not. By far
the biggest seller there is the pizza, and it all happened by fluke.
Philippe and I had envisioned these perfect individual pizzas rolled to exact consistency
by industrial sheeters. That way, no room for error on the crust. It was the first piece of
equipment that arrived, and the last we put to test. The night before Marco opened,
Philippe and I broke out the sheeter to practice—and it didn’t work. I was in the kitchen
flipping pizzas day and night the first two weeks the Osteria was open. The crust is great;
the recipe is spot-on; hand-tossing it allows for little bubbles and other flavorful
imperfections. I usually share recipes, but not this one. Taking it to my grave. Too
I do have an easy, great recipe to pass on, though. It looks like this:
Laurie Smith took that pic. She’s amazing. Just like the meatball sliders at Osteria
Marco. (We’ve been doing a much larger version at Luca d’Italia since it opened). If you’re having a party—make them small version to pass them around. If you’re
making a simple dinner for someone who loves a big tasty meatball—then double up the
size, serve the ball as the main course with the pasta of your choice on the side.
¼ # Ground Veal
¼ # Ground Pork
½ # Ground Beef
1 cup grated reggiano parmigiano
1 diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
3 pieces of white bread (no crust)
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1 Tbsp chopped oregano
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. In sauté pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and garlic, cook until tender (no color)
3. Remove and cool.
4. Cut bread into cubes and soak in milk 5 minutes. Remove bread and squeeze out
5. Place all ingredients in bowl and mix well.
6. Form into 1 ½ oz. balls and place on cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 15 min. until lightly brown.
1 cup veal stock
3 cups basic tomato sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
shaved parmesan cheese
1. Cook tomato sauce and veal
stock in heavy pot.
2. Add meatballs and cook over low
heat for one hour.
3. While sauce is cooking, julienne
onions and cook over low heat w/
olive oil until golden brown,
stirring often for 45 minutes.
4. Add onions to the pot and cook
an additional 15 minutes.
5. To serve: Place meatballs in
bowl, cover w/ sauce, and
garnish w/ parsley and parmesan
cheese. 6. Cook tomato sauce and veal stock in heavy pot.
7. Add meatballs and cook over low heat for one hour.
8. While sauce is cooking, julienne onions and cook over low heat w/ olive oil until
golden brown, stirring often for 45 minutes.
9. Add onions to the pot and cook an additional 15 minutes.
10. To serve: Place meatballs in bowl, cover w/ sauce, and garnish w/ parsley and
(If you make these, drop me an email and let me know how they turn out. . .)