Planning a romantic night is a classic “you get what you give” situation. Walgreens flowers or a cheap bottle of wine doesn’t exactly scream I love you. But candlelight, stunning florals, and an atmosphere that feels more relaxing than a velvet recliner? That’s better than a John Legend slow jam. A night at Spring Garden’s Osteria offers the latter, plus excellent pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and creative Italian mains.
From the outside, Osteria looks more like an old office building—one with an impressive gardening budget—than a place to have a great meal or celebration. But inside, you’ll find all the markings of a sophisticated Italian restaurant: an antique pasta machine, doughy focaccia stacked on a table in the corner, cookbooks on the shelves, and a brick oven churning out pizzas to the pace of mandolin chords coming from the speakers. Even more surprising, though, is the glass-encased patio off of the main dining room. It's essentially a greenhouse, offering botanical garden-esque escapism on a date night or dinner with friends unlike any other in town.
It’s a laid back atmosphere, but there’s a certain allure to drinking at the long marble bar, watching plates of chicken liver rigatoni go to smiling couples, and hearing waitstaff utter something like, “The branzino is fantastic tonight” and knowing that it’s true. The menu is massive, stacked with cheese boards, pizzas, and entrees lumped into every Italian course that ends in “i.”
Most dishes give you the feeling you’re on a flavorful Tuscan holiday without actually having to set foot in PHL. Start with the oniony beef tartare or grilled octopus, move on to any of the fantastic handmade pastas, and end with the duck breast topped with fig and husk cherry. If you’re here with a group, share a pizza. With toppings like spicy coppa, aged balsamic, and bufala mozzarella, each one is an Italian feast in pizza form.
Head to this sprawling yet intimate restaurant when you want to break free from mediocre date nights. You’ll be in for a first-class romantic experience, an impressive wine list, and satisfying dishes that will remind you to book that trip to Tuscany. Finally.
On most nights, Osteria has around eight antipasti options. And since you're headed towards a spread of pizza, spaghetti, and ribeye, you should keep things light during this round. This finely chopped beef tartare has a crunch from crisp leeks and a spicy bite from the sprinkled horseradish. It’s chilly, refreshing, and comes with a buckwheat crisp. Make sure it’s on the table.
Duck Leg Confit
This succulent duck thigh comes with brussels sprouts, a chutney-like apple mostarda (with giant apple chunks), and frisee greens. Everything is so perfectly balanced that nothing is overpowering—you taste it all.
These bowtie pastas look like tiny candies. And with stuffing like creamy honey nut squash and parmigiana fonduta, they’re almost as sweet. It’s served with an aged balsamic drizzle that adds a little kick, but the beauty of the handmade pasta doesn’t get lost in the saucy shuffle.
You’re not coming to Osteria without getting pasta, and this one may be the best on the menu. It’s packed with veal osso buco and herby, lemony gremolata. Topped with bits of saffron, each bite of braised goodness is savory and fragrant.
There are figs on a few dishes here, and this may be our favorite. The pizza is thin crust but bubbly, so it’s perfectly foldable. The Trentino is topped with pungent gorgonzola, sauteed fig, salty speck, and aged balsamic, making one creamy, decadent pizza that will put you in a welcome food coma after two or three slices.
Seared Duck Breast
Once you’re out of the pizza coma (it takes about 20 minutes and a glass of red), make sure the seared duck breast isn’t far behind it. The meat is tender, it’s sliced for sharing, and the sweet combo of husk cherry, mission fig, and delicata squash perfectly complements the gamey meat.
Teres Major Fillet
We’re thinking about telling the servers here that we’ve been prescribed this dish, at least once a week, for good health. It’s a rare cut of beef—we haven’t seen it on many menus in the city—and they pair it with sweet potato caponata and a sweet Nero D’Avola wine sauce. Get it. Doctor’s orders.