Since opening its door in 2007, this Melrose and Highland dining destination has grown into an empire that spans a pizzeria, to-go counter and retail shop and recently-opened salumeria. The fine dining star, Osteria, continues to pack tables and churn out some of the city's best Italian food (and encyclopedic wine list) from Batali, Bastianich, et al. But the heart of the restaurant is Nancy Silverton's mozzarella bar: Over a dozen small plates showcase the handcrafted varieties from cream-filled burrata, dressed with tangy leek vinaigrette and mustard breadcrumbs ($16), to spongy bufalawith lemon bagna cauda and umami-rich bottarga ($18). Load up on antipasti to share—the grilled octopus ($21) is a must with charred, tender tentacles delicately dressed with lemon, celery and potatoes—and pace yourself through courses of elevated, handmade pastas and rustic, meat-heavy main plates, cooked to perfection in the wood-burning oven. Dessert deserves a visit in its own right with an ever-changing selection of seasonal gelati and just fancy-enough torta della nonna ($12), the envy of any grandmother.
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