Attack of the Pecorino Romano Cheese : A Hertzog Homestead Restaurant Review of Osteria Avanti Restaurant, Leola

osteria-avantiFor part of Scott’s Christmas/Birthday gift, we began our quiet afternoon at Osteria Avanti Italian Restaurant, connected to the Inn at Leola Village complex about 10 minutes from Hertzog Homestead.

When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by a fireplace with a crackling fire, soothing music, and lovely rustic Italian decor. Although the restaurant only had two full tables, it took several minutes to be waited on and to be seated, most likely due to a small staff on this particular Sunday afternoon in December. Our server, a young gentleman, was reserved and professional in every way. I imagined him being a hipster after work hours, who might enjoy a top shelf scotch on the rocks in a vintage blazer discussing some new rock band with friends. But I digress. He was a suave professional every way, until that is, at the attack of the Pecorino Romano. Allow me to elaborate.

Scott settled into his lunch, contentedly eating his Avanti burger: crisp pork belly, braised beef cheek and gorgonzola cheese (well done as per his request); I, with my spaghetti with shrimp in brandy cream sauce, found myself craving some Pecorino Romano cheese. Not grated parmesan that pizza joints serve; the real, waxy, chopped right off the wheel imported Pecorino Romano. Our server was happy to oblige. He returned moments later with a hand grater and an extremely thin slice of imported Pecorino Romano cheese. It was nearing the end of its life, right down the waxy outer coating. But this server was going to use every bit this little block had to offer.

lsAs the grater slid across the Pecorino, snowing cheese upon my mound of gourmet pasta, the sliver leapt from our server’s hand and violently ricocheted off the front of my new Chinos blouse. It came fast. It came hard. And it hurt. The Pecorino Romano unceremoniously landed between my feet. As I reached down to pick it up, chest throbbing, our server could only stare silently wondering what his next move might be.  He then apologized in a most dignified and professional manner. We chatted a few minutes about the fact that we are local bed and breakfast owners and send our guests regularly to Avanti for birthdays and anniversaries. He thanked us and asked if we required anything else before disappearing into the kitchen with the offending cheese rind.

In light of the circumstances as well as our candidness about us regularly recommending guests to the Osteria Avanti, I felt that some accommodation should have been made such as a complimentary drinks or dessert. However, none was forthcoming.

It was a pleasant experience overall. The quality of the food at Avanti was indeed excellent. The ambience, second to none, and the feel of being in a rustic yet posh Italian restaurant somewhere in Rome set the stage for our meal. All the employees were dressed impeccably, and the air of aloof professionalism exuded all who were employed. In short, we recommend Osteria Avanti restaurant for a romantic dinner, or for a relaxing cocktail at the end of a busy day of sightseeing. Just beware of the Pecorino Romano.

Kristen Anselmo Hertzog

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