An osteria serving traditional Italian cuisine in a sexy library-like setting, and with affordable cocktails.
The big hit of the il Lido Group this year has been Aura at the National Gallery, but we still adore this older one, which takes cues from traditional osterias and bars found in Italy. The menu is all about classics with dishes like beef agnolotti pasta with truffles, pappardelle with pork cheek in red wine and beef sirloin tagliata with asparagus and Parmigiano. The sexy and dimly-lit space is awash with lots of dark wood, marble top counters and a storied library-like vibe.
The buzz: A swanky New York-meets-traditional Italian restaurant and bar by the il Lido Group opens in an inconspicuous office building in the CBD.
The vibe: Think old school New York restaurants with a dedicated cherry wood bar for pre-dinner drinks crossed with a modern Italian aesthetic. From the jewel-like wall sconces and red leather chairs to the copper bar lamps and ornate tilework, everything's got a luxe artisan touch. It looks swanky but the dishes, and more importantly price points, are still accessible.
The food: It's about elevating homey Italian classics with starters like a heartwarming bollito misto soup with bone marrow crostini ($23) and the luxuriously hearty beef agnolotti pasta ($28) heaped with freshly-shaved truffle. The deceptively simple Romaine lettuce topped with bottarga and garlic crumbs ($23) is crunchy, super savory and addictive, while the beef tagliata ($38) is cooked to medium rare perfection and comes with creamy potato puree. Portions aren't dainty either, so you'll leave full.
The drinks: One of the great things about the space is the dedicated bar area that has a New York pre-dinner drinks vibe with high stools and booths. Cocktails are named after Ferrari models like the Scuderia ($12), a take on a Bloody Mary, and the perfect digestif cocktail, Enzo ($19) made with date-infused rum and chocolate bitters. The bar shines with stiff, stirred drinks like La Ferrari ($15), essentially a Negroni, as well as Testarossa ($17) with apple wood-smoked whiskey. Oh, and did we mention they're cheap?
Why you'll be back: It's all parts swanky and luxe, without the super hefty price tag. While it's not a place to simply drop by, it's a great option for after-work drinks—with a 500-strong wine list and cocktails that rarely exceed $20. Plus, the food is hearty and familiar but still intricately presented.