The Light at the End of 5th — OSTERIA TULA

Written By resident foodie Shana Overhulser

A down-right homey feel, like you walked into your grandmother’s kitchen, with incredible smells that linger in the air. That is what it’ is like when you step inside Osteria Tulia.

The wooden beams, floor and table tops were taken from an actual rustic barn from an Italian country-side. Warmth emanating from the Chicago brick walls and laid pathway make it completely inviting. Adjoining next store is Bar Tulia offering a more modern pub feel with same country charm.

If you’re in it for Italian – look no further. The menu mirrors the rustic chic decor with description of dishes with enchanting names such as; “The Pig in the Olive Grove”- a pizza that tickled my taste buds time and again with sud-tyrolian speck, olivada, wild oregano and homemade mozzarella. Wholesome goodness on a flatbread!  The “Mary Had a Little Lamb” Pizza was exceptional and contained lamb sausage, ricotta, spring onions, chile with a dash of oregano and thyme.

Now, listen closely! A rarity among any establishment is Crisp Fried Pig Ears (who knew these would be so delightfully crunchy and satisfying) finished with fennel-chili salt and lime. A popular menu item at Osteria Tulia.

Some hazelnut with that? This little pretty is worth an order every time you visit: Warm House-Made Ricotta, adorned with sliced pancetta, pears and hazelnuts atop a crostino, sprinkled with oregano, peppercorns and basil.

A one – and a two – and a three…home-made pastas were served this Homegrown Foodie to sample. Garganelli blew me down with the braised lamb neck sumo and sheep cheese. I was literally in short rib heaven with the Tortelloni housing the foie gras emulsion and marsala in it’s tight presentation. I gave way to the Sweet Potato Cavatelli next harnessing fragrant and moist venison sugo with rosemary.

This Sunday evening was filled to the RIM with late night diners! By 8pm – a full crowded scene inside the dining room and on the patio overlooking Naples 5th Avenue. Chef/Partner Vincenzo Betulia pulled himself away from a busy kitchen to sit and speak with me. A self-proclaimed “pig-kinda guy” as strongly reflected in his tasty dishes. Born in Sicily and immigrating

to America when he was 2 years old, Vincenzo learned his craft by watching and helping out in the household. Busing tables at age 13 in Wisconsin he soon elevated to chef and worked in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.  He makes an effort at wanting to be different while encompassing the traditional Italian cooking he’s known and loved his whole life.

I capped off the evening next door, at Bar Tulia, with a 5-star Espresso Martini!

If you are looking for vegetarian meals or gluten-free pastas – call ahead and Chef will gladly cater to your dietary needs.

Be sure to watch for periodic wine dinners and lunches. Sign up for their newsletter on upcoming events, happy hour and special season menu options at: Osteria Tulia and Bar Tulia signals you back whether it’s for a quick cocktail or lazy Sunday afternoon meal.

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