The Ozzie's Name And Decor Are New, But The Food Is Akin To The Old Fiore's

Posted: January 29, 1993

Five or so years ago, Ozzie Fiore sold his restaurant on Passyunk Avenue and headed to the Jersey Shore. He opened Frisanco's, an Italian spot with the kind of food and prices that created a clientele as steady as the tides.

In May he bought back the old South Philadelphia restaurant and spent the next seven months remodeling. Which meant traveling back and forth from the place in Atlantic City.

"We did the whole inside. Started from scratch. From beginning to end," he said. "Everything is brand- new."

You may have guessed by now that the old restaurant was called Fiore's, which had a reputation for fine food and catering to family dining. The new version is called Ozzie's, and the only resemblance to the past is the food.

This is a cheerful and contemporary-looking restaurant dressed in light

mauve with rosy-peach accents. It specializes in homemade pastas, veal and seafood dishes. Specials are an important part of the dining scene, and fresh is the key word.

Freshness was evident right off the bat in the stuffed artichoke appetizer ($6.95). A number of hearts were packed solid with a delicate and excellent

crabmeat filling.

The freshness continued with unblemished red roasted peppers neatly laced with anchovies ($3.95), and sea-salty clams casino ($5.95) capped with a light bread-crumb topping. Other appetizers were a large eggplant parmigiana ($4.95), mussels in a tangy red or garlicky white sauce ($5.25) and fried calamari ($5.95).

Veal dishes featured large medallions of quality meat that were not dry or chewy. Garlic lovers will enjoy the veal Milanese, which is not only bargain- priced ($13.95) but bathed in finely minced garlic and a delicious red wine sauce.

A more complex dish is veal stuffed with artichoke hearts, broccoli and prosciutto ($14.95) and flamed in a brandy sauce of mushrooms and onions. There's also a regal-looking veal Francaise ($13.95) with a light egg batter served in a lemon-and-white-wine sauce.

And for those who don't deviate from the old traditions, there's the familiar breaded veal parmigiana with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce ($12.95).A friend's egg-battered flounder francaise ($12.95) was gigantic - and delicate and delicious as well.

Flounder also comes stuffed with crabmeat and baked with lemon and butter ($13.95), or simply broiled ($12.95). There's a seafood combo of clams, shrimp, calamari, mussels and flounder over a bed of pasta known as frutta di mare ($14.95), and a number of shrimp dishes.

Rack of lamb was a special at one visit. It was tender lamb broiled to the degree of doneness requested.

Other meats are a veal chop ($16.95), stuffed pork chop ($16.95) and a sirloin grilled or broiled ($15.95), done pizzaiola-style ($16.95) or stuffed with prosciutto and spinach and topped with mushrooms, onions and mozzarella ($17.95).

With entrees, Ozzie's offers a side dish of pasta, or a potato and vegetable of the day.

There are also chicken dishes, salads and daily desserts. Service is knowledgeable and attentive. A bar-and-lounge area is separate from the dining room.

OZZIE'S TRATTORIA

1651 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-755-1981.

Open: 4 to 11 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 5 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 4 to 10 p.m. Sundays.

Price range: Pastas $8.95 to $10.95; entrees $11.95 to $17.95.

Credit cards: American Express and Diners.

Nonsmoking section: No.

Facilities for handicapped: No.

Atmosphere: Cheerfully elegant.

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