It’s always fun and special dining at a restaurant with beautiful interior decor. But you may agree that what’s even better is being invited to dine at the home of friends who live, say, in a posh but comfortable Brownstone. Such a night out exposes you to a new and enchanting environment while also making you feel relaxed and welcome. You might be surprised to hear that I’ve discovered an Italian restaurant that emulates the intimate feel of dining in the home of well-to-do friends, while offering a variety of excellent regional dishes unequaled in a venue of its size. Let me introduce you to your new favorite spot for enjoying delicious Italian cuisine, Osteria Accademia.
The environment described above is no accident. Open since October 2022 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the name Osteria Accademia — or simply Accademia — connects the restaurant with its neighborhood, which includes Columbia University, among other schools. However, the word also references libraries, a meeting place, or a place for conversation — and is the inspiration for the restaurant’s comfortably stylish interior. 3500 vintage books repurposed from a decommissioned library line the room’s attractively backlit bookshelves, creating an inviting, sound-controlled space to enjoy great conversation, food and wine.
Osteria Accademia is the creation of restaurateur Huseyin Ozer of Upper West Side mainstays Bodrum and Leyla, and partner Murat Akinci, who is also the sommelier. This experienced duo’s objective for the restaurant is to provide customers a cozy, inviting spot where it’s easy to lose track of time as a delicious dinner becomes a memorable evening. It’s definitely on my short list of places to bring out-of-town guests who I’d want to impress.
With a menu created by Consulting Chef Massimilliano Convertini (Cipriani, Barolo) and Executive Chef Claudio Cristofoli (Ciprinai, Il Mulino), each dish represents a different region of Italy and includes fresh, homemade pasta dishes created with imported Italian ingredients, as well as farm-to-table meat and chicken dishes.
We had to start off the meal with a nice glass of Cabernet, and Osteria Accademia provided a generous pour. While it was challenging to make selections from so many tempting offers, my fellow foodie/writer friend Anne and I finally chose our appetizers and entrees by going with a few of our favorites.
Anne chose the Paccheri ($21), a wide tubular pasta in a light tomato sauce, topped with garden-fresh arugula and a generous shaving of dried ricotta. Declaring this pasta to be “off the charts,” she was more than satisfied with a portion that could have easily been shared between us.
Being a huge fan, I chose to start with the Burrata ($17), featuring a gigantic ball of the soft, buttery cheese resting over chilled white asparagus with red and golden beets (another favorite), dressed in a light balsamic and basil vinaigrette. This burrata salad was simply delectable and would have made a nice light lunch if accompanied by warm, crusty bread and a glass of wine.
If you love beef, I can enthusiastically recommend the Braised Short Ribs ($31), served in a rich and flavorful red wine gravy with pecorino over a generous mound of creamy mashed potatoes — comfort food like mama used too make! The beef is fork-tender and just melts in your mouth. Anne and I both enjoyed this dish tremendously, and we noticed several tables near us ordering it as well!
Osteria Accademia’s homemade desserts are not to be missed, so try to leave some room. My choice was the Moka Tiramisu ($12) — lady fingers soaked in espresso, layered with whipped, sweetened mascarpone, dusted with cocoa powder and confectioners sugar and served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce on the plate. Classic! While the portion was big enough to share, it was so light and fluffy, I devoured it completely without guilt. Here’s an elevation shot:
Anne couldn’t resist indulging in her favorite Italian pastry: two homemade mini Cannoli ($12), which arrived to the table heavily dusted with confectioners sugar and garnished with a sliver of candied orange peel. She reported that the shells were crispy, golden and light while the ricotta filling was exceptionally fluffy and creamy. They do look tempting, don’t they?
We enjoyed our visit to Osteria Accademia so much, I can’t wait to go back! Service was excellent and the place is already so popular, by the time we finished our meal, there were many diners waiting outside in the freezing cold for a table, so reservations are strongly recommended!