Ostra Marries Mediterranean Simplicity and Modern Elegance

Posted April 5, 2016 by Kayla Baker in Dining Downtown: Restaurant Reviews
Grilled branzino fillet. Photo Credit: Kayla Baker

Stepping into Ostra feels like walking into an exclusive party. The entrance to the One Charles Street restaurant is unassuming, with a small vestibule and the word “Ostra” painted on the wall in a simple font. But step through the next set of doors and you are transported to another world. To your right, an elegant dining room with impeccably set tables and wispy chandeliers that are reminiscent of jellyfish. To your left, a long bar lined with posh patrons and a piano player whose tunes complement the upbeat chatter. And in front of you, an open kitchen where chefs bustle amongst gleaming stainless steel pots and pans and a case of fresh fish on ice. You are Ostra’s guest, and you will feel like all of this is just for you.

Chef and owner Jamie Mammano does an excellent job of marrying Mediterranean and American seafood at this chic modern restaurant. Ostra’s menu contains an impressive selection of shellfish, caviar, raw bar selections and a combination of cooked and chilled seafood dishes. Many of the dishes are seared or grilled to preserve the natural flavor of the fish. Mammano also takes some cues from Mediterranean dining and keeps the kitchen at Ostra open later than most restaurants, allowing diners to savor their meals and enjoy their evenings fully.

cappellacci

Mediterranean inspired cappellacci. Photo Credit: Kayla Baker

For my first course I chose a Mediterranean inspired cappellacci made with whipped ricotta, lemon, peas, and chive blossoms. All of the ingredients harmonized with one another, and I could not separate lemon from pea from ricotta because it was a dish where all the flavors were equally weighted to create that distinctly refreshing Mediterranean taste. It was a light and perfect first course.

The wine list at Osta contains over 275 high-end wines that oenophiles only dream of. Normally I would be sheepish of my ignorance in regards to wine expertise, but my knowledgeable waiter was happy to help me choose a wine in my preferred flavor palette. I explained that I tended to like dry reds, and he talked me through the flavor profiles of each dry red on the wine list until I settled on a cabernet sauvignon. I was impressed by his wine knowledge and learned that Ostra’s staff frequently partake in wine tastings in order to help guests like myself.

Throughout the evening I had been eyeing every dish that passed me, hoping that one of them would strike me with inspiration to try it, but I fell victim to the paradox of choice. My waiter helped me select the grilled branzino fillet, which is a mild white fish served hot with a lemon, garlic herb baste, vidalia onion, roasted potato, and radish. True to its Mediterranean heritage, the lemon and garlic herb flavors complimented the mildness of the fresh fish, while the vidalia onion and radish added some sweetness and sharp contrast. The dish was a perfect example of Mammano’s style, giving you exactly the flavors you anticipate and then countering them with something unexpected.

Ostra's chocolate tort. Photo Credit: Kayla Baker

Ostra’s chocolate tort. Photo Credit: Kayla Baker

For a nightcap I chose the warm chocolate torte and a cup of coffee. The baked torte crumbled into a gooey warm center and was accompanied by a rich Tahitian vanilla ice cream that provided the perfect balance of hot and cold. The coffee came not in a cup, but in its own small pot, as a reminder that my entire experience that evening had been catered especially to me.

Intimate, elegant, and exotic; Ostra is not simply a restaurant, but an experience for anyone who wants to be stunned.