Author: OsteriaCelli2

Jean Le Boeuf says


Jean Le Boeuf review: Osteria Celli in south Fort Myers

Milan-born chef Marco Corricelli strikes out on his own with this wonderfully rustic osteria.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

If ever there was a case for a $20 plate of pasta Bolognese, Osteria Celli makes it.

The dish comes out as a hearty tangle of fettuccine, meat sauce and shaved grana padano.

“I could make this at home,” you think. And then you take a bite, and realize how deliciously naïve the you-of-five-seconds-ago was.

The meat-strewn sauce strikes a luscious balance of sweetly tart tomatoes, rich beef, bright herbs. But those noodles are the star. The springy ribbons have an al-dente bite, a light chew that calls to mind flour-dusted Nonnas hunched over counters, rolling pins in hand.

The person responsible for all this wonderfully rustic Italian fare is Celli’s Milan born chef-owner Marco Corricelli. He’s the dark-haired man roaming the open kitchen in a white chef’s coat with Italian flags emblazoned on the sleeves.

Corricelli, the original chef at Sanibel’s Il Cielo, opened this casual, 60-seat osteria late last year in south Fort Myers. The menu reflects this classically trained chef’s Italian roots and his cooking adventures throughout Europe and the Mediterranean

Take his lumache — in Italian the word means snail. At Osteria Celli it’s a beautifully garlicky version of escargot, presented in little, sputtering pools of butter that are almost as good with bread as the plump mollusks themselves.

In a nod to Southern Italy there are skewers of grilled octopus, the tender legs served atop a bed of kale marinated in lemon and olive oil. Corricelli veers north with a velvety pate made from chicken livers and fat and sweetly caramelized onions.

An oval of burrata, a soft cheese made from mozzarella and cream, crowns a bed of arugula and wisps of coppa ham for a fine salad. In another, more of that softly marinated kale joins chickpeas, dried cranberries and shredded carrots under drifts of salty, nutty pecorino.

These are dishes worthy of discussion — on the relative merits of the trendy kale plant, or the supple texture of that octopus — which is too bad because at peak times Osteria Celli is a cacophony. Its lustrous granite counter is a beauty to behold, but joined with the tile floors, the drape-less windows, the wood-veneered tables it becomes just another sounding board drowning out attempts at conversation.

The good news is this is Southwest Florida, so by 8 p.m. peak time is over. You can concentrate on your little ears of fresh orecchiette pasta tossed with sausage, chili flakes and sautéed broccoli rabe; on your spaghetti carbonara made with cubes of the pork-cheek bacon known as guanciale, fresh eggs and a healthy dose of cracked pepper.

And on a slightly bitter note, you can ponder how such a juicy hunk of brasato looked so horribly unappetizing on the plate — like a wobbly mass of charred flesh set next to a cafeteria scoop of mashed potatoes; and you can wonder aloud when, if ever, the server will finally bring the check (it came, with apologies, a good 10 minutes later).

As the clock ticks toward 9 p.m., things get even more interesting. Men with slicked hair and barely buttoned Polo shirts make their way to the booth nearest the kitchen. They speak Italian and head out front from time to time to smoke. They shake hands with Mr. Corricelli, nodding happily as he presents each dish.

Osteria Celli isn’t always perfect. But if these guys approve, who am I to contradict?

Jean Le Boeuf is the nom de plume of a local food lover who dines at The News-Press’ expense. Follow the critic at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf (Twitter).

Osteria Celli

15880 Summerlin Road, south Fort Myers

Food:

Atmosphere:

Service:

Price: $$$-$$$$

Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-10 p.m. daily

Call: 267-1310

Web: osteriacelli.com

Noise level: Riotously loud when busy

Etc.: Beer and wine only, wine list is exclusively Italian with interesting, well-priced selections from Umbria, Sardinia and throughout the country; outdoor seating; reservations accepted.

SAMPLE OF THE MENU

STARTERS AND SIDES

Brussels sprouts and speck, $10

Housemade meatballs, $11

Calamari, $13

ENTREES

Gnocchi Lombardi, $17

Grilled salmon, lentils, $22

Lamb chop, $27

Osteria Celli brings authentic Italian cuisine

Osteria Celli brings authentic Italian cuisine

A new eatery is bringing the flavors of Italy to southFort Myers.

Instead of fettucine Alfredo and veal picatta diners have come to expect from Italian restaurants in Southwest Florida, Osteria Celli has selected authentic flavors from various regions of Italy. The 60-seat restaurant has made its home in the space formerly occupied by The Cookout, bringing a true trattoria ambiance and menu to the area.

On Tuesday, chef and owner Marco Coricelli lightly grilled a marinated octopus tentacle and set it on a bed of kale and chickpea dressed in olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.

“It could be from Sicily, Sardinia, Calabria, Puglia – all of the coast from the south of Italy there’s tons of octopus,” he said.

As a child growing up in Italy, he remembers seeing octopus on the rocks so near, you could grab them with your hands.

The food is fresh and light. No cream. No butter. And Coricelli works with local purveyors to secure the freshest ingredients he can find, often selecting organic ingredients.

His menu is a modern twist on fresh fare found in different regions of Italy, such as butternut squash ravioli wrapped in fresh pasta and dressed in a walnut butter sauce with fresh sage finished with amaretto cookie crumbles, lamb lollipops served with sauteed potatoes and fresh peppers and handmade meatballs rolled with fresh herbs and stuffed with ricotta cheese.

“I could dedicate myself to what I enjoy doing – cooking and preparing specials and really focusing on the customer.”

The bistro style restaurant is casual fine dining, where the menu is small and there will be daily specials plus a selection of boutique wines and craft beers. He’s currently open for dinner, but plans to open in early January for lunch and will be offering dinner specials on New Year’s Eve. The restaurant’s open-format kitchen will also give Coricelli the room to mingle with guests first hand and keep an eye on service, he said.

“The aspect of cooking I enjoy most is creating and tasting new flavors and sharing that with others, Coricelli said.

The restaurant is located at 15880 Summerlin Road, Unit 308, in south Fort Myers. For more information, call 267-1310 or email osteria.celli@aol.com.

A La Carte: Chef swaps around Southwest Florida

Marco Coricelli, Osteria Celli, 15880 Summerlin Road, Unit 308, south Fort Myers. Marco Coricelli will open Osteria Celli today offering lunch and dinner service in the restaurant space formerly occupied by The Cookout. He will offer Italian cuisine with some Mediterranean dishes that are simple foods yet strives for authenticity, representing many different regions of Italy. Dishes will range from oxtail meatballs to porchetta to gnocchi with gorgonzola and speck. Patrons will find locally farmed products whenever possible on the menu, and some imported ingredients from Italy. Pastas will be made fresh daily in house and the menu will reflect what ingredients are in season.

10 BEST SAYS

  • Osteria Celli
    Osteria Celli
    Osteria Celli
Italian: Don’t expect chicken parm at this Italian restaurant; Chef Marco Corricelli doesn’t serve the more common, American Italian dishes. His food is inspired from many different regions in Italy, his pasta…  Read More

A new restaurant in Fort Myers—Osteria Celli

Dining Review: Mamma Mia!

A new restaurant in Fort Myers—Osteria Celli—wins you over with authentic Italian dishes.

When I hear that another Italian restaurant has opened in Lee County, I’m about as excited as I would be for another pair of flip-flops. Can you blame me?

Red-sauce eateries abound in this area, so it’s hard to drum up enthusiasm for another boxed pasta joint. Fortunately, Osteria Celli in South Fort Myers is not one of those places. Opened just before the beginning of the year, this is one new Italian restaurant worth getting worked up about.

During a recent Friday night dinner, I immediately noticed a detail that sets this establishment apart from most of the rest: real Italians. At a table against the wall, sipping after-dinner espressos, speaking Italian—they were as good a sign as I could have hoped for.

Osteria Celli’s menu features a combination of traditional favorites you’d expect, starting with carpaccio and bruschetta, moving on to gnocchi and stuffed cannelloni, plus some surprising additions, such as caramelized Brussels sprouts with pancetta and balsamic-glazed short ribs.

To begin, my companion selected the polipo, a plate of grilled octopus accented by garbanzo beans and kale dressed with a lemon-garlic emulsion ($14). The octopus arrived firm with a smoked flavor, its subtle taste complemented by the sharpness of the citrus-bathed garbanzos. The dish had a sophistication that suggests a chef who pays attention to texture as well as flavor.

My appetizer gave the same impression. I chose the bietole, a salad of red and gold beets, sliced oranges, arugula and squares of tangy ricotta salata all dressed with a pleasingly acidic vinaigrette ($10). The freshness of the salad paired well with a glass of chilled verdicchio ($7).

The restaurant’s wine list is another of its noteworthy features. Sourced from family-owned Italian vineyards, the list offers diners an opportunity to sample wines that don’t often appear on local menus, many from lesser-known regions like Sardinia and Puglia.

For her main course, my companion opted for the evening’s special: grouper baked with potatoes, artichoke hearts and fresh green olives ($28). The dish had a full, complex flavor that felt at once Mediterranean and Southwest Floridian. The zing of the artichokes and olives provided a satisfying counterpoint to the mild grouper.

I chose a plate of fettuccine Bolognese ($20). The truth is, I’m a die-hard red-saucer. I love classic Italian done well. The dish was exceptional—a rich ragu accented by fresh herbs and served over noodles cooked al dente. The pasta is made in-house, as is the sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

“We start with a pot of fresh tomatoes about this big,” our waiter explained, miming a large stockpot. “Then we simmer it down until it’s about this big.” Here, he mimed a 2-quart pot.

I believe it. The sauce had none of the bracing saltiness I’ve come to expect from canned-Italian joints.

To finish the evening, my friend and I again took diverging routes. This time, she opted for a classic: tiramisu ($6). The dessert arrived in a drinking glass, looking more like a cup of mousse than the traditional square slice. But the taste was identical, with the right blend of mascarpone filling and espresso-soaked ladyfingers, topped with cocoa powder.

I chose the panna cotta alla cannella ($6). The custard-like dish arrived in a tall glass, the baked cream topped with sliced, candied apples and crumbled amaretto cookies. The dessert felt festive and original, and the rich cream made for a satisfying endpoint to the meal.

As the menu points out, osterias in Italy are casual local eateries with a focus on simple but quality food. Osteria Celli is exactly that. This is not the place for white-tablecloth dining; in fact, there are no tablecloths at all. The furniture is simple rattan, and the artwork on the walls is attractive without being opulent. There’s a bar with seating that looks into the large open kitchen. When people in Southwest Florida say “upscale casual,” I think this is exactly what they have in mind. And it works out well. With none of the trappings of a fancier restaurant, Osteria Celli puts the focus on its exceptional food.

OSTERIA CELLI OFFERS REFRESHING AUTHENTIC TAKE ON ITALIAN CUISINE

drewSTERWALD

Trying to keep up with new Italian restaurants inSouthwest Florida is virtually impossible, as it seems every month brings new pizzerias, osterias and trattorias to an already crowded Italiano scene. Inevitably, marinara fatigue sets in and you find yourself avoiding dishes ending with the words parmigiana, piccata and puttanesca.

The cure for the Italian overdose is to be found in an oasis like Osteria Celli in Fort Myers. Its classically trained executive chefowner, Marco Corricelli, was born and raised in Milan, where he worked in fine hotels and restaurants before branching out across Europe and acquiring a broader, Mediterranean-spanning approach to food.

You will find no Italian- American crowd-pleasers like eggplant parm or baked ziti on his menu. What you will find is pasta made fresh every day and so tender you wonder why anybody cooks with dried. You’ll choose from dishes that reflect regional ingredients and cooking methods fromLombardy south to Tuscany and on down to Campania — a and even wines from the remote isle ofSardinia. a

Above: A lid of fondant tops chocolate mousse. DREW STERWALDFLORIDA WEEKLYAn “osteria” traditionally is an establishment that serves wine and simple food, a place more cannolicasual and rustic than a trattoria or ristorante. Chef Corricelli does keep his menu brief — about 10 appetizers and 10 entrees — but there’s nothing “simple” about his food. It abounds with vivid and layered flavors that can shake an indifferent diner out of Italian apathy.

The 60-seat restaurant opened late last year in a Publix-anchored plaza at Summerlin and Winkler roads, a space formerly occupied by The Cookout, a barbecue joint. Some furnishings remain, including the terrazzo floor and furniture. There’s a lack of attention to table setting that’s at odds with the refined quality of Osteria Celli’s; there are no tablecloths, flowers or candles, and flatware is simply placed on top of a cloth napkin. There was nice piano music playing in the background when we were seated, but as the dimly lit dining room filled on

 Grilled octopus is served on a salad of kale and garbanzo beans. Grilled octopus is served on a salad of kale and garbanzo beans.Friday night it was drowned out by crowd noise. There are lot of hard surfaces in the wide-open space, with little to absorb sound, and at times we could barely hear our waitress.

We sat for about 10 minutes before she arrived to offer drinks. The dinner shift appeared to be understaffed with servers, so be prepared to relax and be patient between courses — your forbearance will be rewarded.

Like the menu, the wine list is short and Italian. We enjoyed glasses of Valle Reale OrganicMontepulciano d’Abruzzo ($8) and Argiolas Perdera Monica Sarda ($9). The latter, from Sardinia, was new to me; the primary varietal, Monica, has qualities of a Merlot — round, berry tastes, not too much structure, versatile for food. On tap for beer fans: Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai IPA.

 Left: Lemon panna cotta Left: Lemon panna cottaBread and tapenade eventually arrived with our appetizers. For a taste of the Italian countryside, we chose the fegatini ($11), a rustic chicken liver paté. The lush, earthy puree was spread on sliced bread and topped sparingly with caramelized onions that added a touch of sweetness. Drops of saba, a syrup made by reducing grape musts, dotted the platter but were too scant to add any flavor when dabbed with the bread.

Our other appetizer, polipo ($14), represented seafood-loving coastalItaly. The grilled octopus tentacle was about 6 inches long and remarkably tender. It sat on a salad of kale and garbanzo beans laced with a lemony, garlicky dressing. For such a small number of ingredients, this dish really packed a flavor punch.

Considering the relative scarcity of restaurants serving handmade pasta, we decided to stick with that part of the menu for the main course but still found good, contrasting choices with different sauces. Non-pasta options include a hanger steak, chicken “under a brick” and grilled lamb chops.

The ravioli di melanzane ($16) were wallet-sized pockets of thin pasta stuffed with creamy eggplant and ricotta cheese. They were draped in a bright pomodoro sauce containing crushed fresh tomatoes and garlic and threads of fresh basil. Again, not a lot ingredients, but tons of flavor.

A bit more complex and assertive, the gnocchi Lombardi ($17) were blanketed in a rich, piquant gorgonzola cream sauce strewn with strips of speck, the salty cured Italian ham. The generous serving contained about 15 tubular potato dumplings, thick but so light on the tongue. A decadent dish, for sure, some of which you can save for another meal.

After all, you might want to indulge in a scratch-made dessert. Try the creamy and tart lemon panna cotta ($6) served in a parfait glass and topped with cookie crumbles. Chocolate lovers will be more than sated by the rich chocolate mousse ($6) with a lid of chocolate fondant and raspberry coulis.

Tired of the same old offerings at your neighborhood pizza and pasta joint? Head to Osteria Celli for a refreshing taste of authentic Italy. ¦

Gulfshore Life 10 Best New Restaurants 2016

BY DOROTHEA HUNTER SÖNNE

Osteria Celli

There’s a difference between food that’s presented prettily and food that just tastes so good you can’t stop forking it into your mouth. You hope for both, but if given a choice, it’s the latter any day.
My husband and I found that at Osteria Celli, a casual-chic cafe in a Fort Myers strip mall, what the dishes may lack in the initial “wow” factor, they way more than make up in taste.
The Gorgonzola-smothered plump gnocchi with a chiffonade of speck (cured Italian meat) was so amazing my heart sank when I took the last bite. My husband, who grew up in Argentina, where nearly half the population can trace roots to Italy, said the Bolognese was the best he’s ever had. I’d have to agree.
Freshly made pastas are the hallmark of chef-owner Marco Coricelli’s menu. He’s visibly proud of where and how he sources his food and puts a premium on using hormone-free meats and organic produce. He flexes his creativity with nightly specials—everything from swordfish carpaccio to lamb ragu with parpadelle. Also unique are his “wine specials.” If you don’t see them on the chalkboard in the open kitchen, ask and he’ll gladly pour you a Perdera Monica di Sardegna (a dry wine from a type of grape grown in Sardinia) or perhaps a blend of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Syrah. And that’s just it—his hands-on approach is what truly distinguishes this restaurant.