By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Osteria brings Northern Italy flavors to Mesa.
Mesa residents Jeff and Alec-Lauren Golzio are big on Italian tradition and culture.
Alec-Lauren’s great-grandfather escaped the clutches of Mussolini after serving as his accountant. Growing up, she and her husband watched their families cook the classic dishes of Northern Italy.
Now the couple is sharing their experiences via Osteria, which opened in February on McKellips Road, between Higley and Recker roads.
She says Osteria will fill a void in the area by offering a seasonally driven, rustic menu with hand-crafted pastas, wood-fired meats and pizza, using local, organic ingredients.
“Our menu is truly more of a Northern Italian menu,” says Golzio, who grew up in northeast Mesa. “That’s where both of our families are from. It’s a very simple menu, but it’s a lot of meats and veggies. Our dough, everything, is local organic. If we can’t find it locally, then we go regional. We stay as close to us as we possibly can, and then we go out from there.
“It’s a simple menu. We want the ingredients to speak for themselves, and not be covered up in all kinds of business. We will have high-quality, good stuff.”
The chef is Tony Snyder, who was chosen because, Golzio says, he was the only one who could relate to her vision. He understood the true meaning of “fresh pasta,” and the plans were set.
“You can come in in the morning and see Tony making fresh pasta,” she says. “He’ll have that on the menu, as well as grilled meats. We have lamb coming up that he’ll put on the featured chalkboard. Guests can order from the menu or the featured chalkboard.”
Breakfast and brunch are two staples of Osteria, which features a full espresso bar, along with pastries and breakfast sandwiches during the week. The weekend sees DJs spinning music as patrons dine on brunch.
“I want it to be fun, really great happy hours,” she says. “We’ll have a lot of drink specials and have all kinds of great things. We want to be the local spot where you can bring a date or your family. It’s relaxing. That’s what Osteria is, a public gathering place, but with an elevated menu.”
Lunches – salads, soups and sandwiches – will average between $10 and $15.
“We are creating quick dishes because we have a lot of professionals out here who need to get in and out,” she says. “For dinner, the pastas will average at about $18 all the way for meats. We’re using grass-fed, organic meats and the fish is spear-caught, like a swordfish that will be coming straight out of San Diego.”
It’s important for guests to hear the origins of the fish dishes.
“It’s so fresh,” she says. “It’s to us within 24 hours. We’re really excited. People don’t think of Arizona as a seafood place. It’s literally and environmentally smart when you’re getting it straight from the ocean.
“They’re not netting or anything like that. They’re killing one fish. Tony is buying the whole fish – not just a filet. They’re getting it to us asap. The boat comes in from fishing and they get it straight to us.”
Equally as important is the comfortable feeling in the restaurant. The scent of the wood-fired oven is reminiscent of bonfires on a cool Midwestern evening. The patio is lined with lavender and olive trees the Golzios planted.
“My great aunt, she’s a hummingbird freak,” she says. Osteria’s logo has a hummingbird above the i.
“The olive trees and lavender are an homage to her. There are hummingbirds out here every single day.”
She hopes neighbors will stop by frequently.
“I’m really stoked about being a part of our neighborhood,” says Golzio, who co-owned the Handlebar Pub and Grill in Apache Junction before Osteria. “We’re literally becoming a part of our community. It’s not just about opening a restaurant and making money. It’s about the food. It’s nurturing. It’s all of those good things.”