M Osteria brings big city feel to Toledo

. September 1, 2015.

M Osteria Bar & Lounge
609 Monroe St. Toledo
Mon-Thur: 11:30am-11pm
Fri: 11:30am-2am
Sat: 4pm-2am

The Short Course
Kid friendly: Better suited for older children or adults
To avoid wait: Anytime
Noise level: Moderate
Bathroom amenities: No changing station
High chairs: Yes
Got milk? No
Kids’ menu? No, however they can make plain buttered noodles, and pizzas and burgers are on the menu
Allergies: Make server aware of allergies. Gluten free and vegan options are available. Food can also be prepared on an induction burner off the line to ensure no cross contamination.

Summertime in the city!

As mentioned in my previous columns, the kids and I set out to discover  what downtown Toledo has to offer. We enjoyed our adventure of experiencing new places. The more we venture downtown, the more we realize how much the city has to offer and we need to continue making the most of it! This column concludes my trilogy of summertime in the city. We finished our journey in style. 

Comfortable sophistication

Occasionally, people equate sophistication with something being stuffy, pretentious, or uptight.   However, in my opinion, owner and local entrepreneur Pasquale (Pat) Giammarco hit it spot on with the balance of comfort and sophistication at his newest venture, M Osteria Bar & Lounge that opened in late February. Giammarco is the founder of Marco’s Pizza which has grown to boast locations in 36 states and three countries! Lucky for us, Giammarco has decided to  experiment with a different concept in OUR city.

Osteria (pronounced oste’ ria), is Italian for “a place serving simple foods and wine.” I wouldn’t call the delectable edibles “simple,” but I’d call them delicious. (I will get to the food in a bit.) The location is a stone’s throw from Fifth Third Field on Monroe Street,  in the midst of the hustle and bustle. The old brick building has been completely renovated and the interior has a hip bistro feel about it with a lot of character. Honestly, it felt like a place you’d find in a much larger city.

The woodwork and stunning staircase blend well with the open ceiling and exposed brick walls. The wrap around bar and open kitchen in the back add to its personality. We chose a high table near the front window and enjoyed watching the activity on the street. Not exactly something you can do at a restaurant in the ‘burbs.

Leave the toddlers at home

Almost everywhere you go; you see families out with their little ones eating chicken fingers alongside their filet and shrimp cocktail indulging parents. That’s great. I’m a parent too.  But sometimes, it’s refreshing to walk into a place and know you won’t hear anyone throwing a tantrum or better yet, throwing food. I love kids, don’t get me wrong. But M Osteria flaunts a very adult vibe.

According to head chef Justin Thomas, kids are certainly welcome, and they do have high chairs, but there is no kids’ menu; as M Osteria is geared toward adults. “We’ll do buttered noodles or spaghetti and meatballs,” said Thomas, and there are options like pizza or chicken breast on the menu as well.

We dined on a weeknight and people slowly streamed in after work, meeting up for a drink at the bar or dinner with a friend. The sophisticated yet comfortable lounge upstairs is open on the weekends with a DJ starting around 10pm.  I see a GNO on the horizon.

Traditional Italian fare

 “We do everything from scratch here,” said Thomas. They make their own pastas and the menu changes according to the seasons, depending on what they can source from local farms. Bread or salad did not come with our meals, so we enjoyed the garlic butter knots with red sauce to get us started. 

I devoured the Asparagus Angelotti pasta with Maitake mushrooms. The fresh flavors were bursting out of the pasta pockets! My daughter decided to try the Chicken Milanese. The fried chicken cutlet was on Ciabatta bread with mozzarella, spinach, pickled red onion and gremolata aioli for $10. I couldn’t resist eating some of her leftovers the next day. My boys were a little daring and shared the Bianco pizza. The garlic cream sauce, chicken and spinach served on their thin crust was a delicious hit; even for the youngest who was a bit tentative.

Bottom Line:
The from scratch Italian and American cuisine mixed with the hip bistro flare of places found in much bigger cities makes M Osteria a great destination. They will certainly welcome and accommodate your children, but I suggest you make this a fun night out with someone special or a group of friends, and end the evening taking in the skyline views from the upstairs lounge.