LaBan's chat: Marc Vetri on second Osteria, in Moorestown

Vetri's tortellini pie.
Vetri's tortellini pie.
Posted: February 07, 2013

Here is an excerpt of Craig LaBan's online chat from Feb. 5:

Craig LaBan: Chef Marc Vetri, one of the most influential culinary figures in Philadelphia, with his namesake original, plus Osteria, Amis, and Alla Spina, is joining us for the chat. We're looking to see what's next: Vetri's vision for a suburban outpost of Osteria this fall at the Moorestown Mall. Today I'm snacking on tortellini pie - one of the latest creations between you and your Vetri chef, the talented Adam Leonti. All those pastry-wrapped layers of mortadella-stuffed tortellini, polpetti (meatballs) and bechamel are working wonders.

Marc Vetri: It's one of my new favorite dishes.

C.L.: Tell us about the newest project in Moorestown. I understand it's inspired by Osteria. Will it be the same, bigger?

M.V: Basically the same concept as Osteria. We feel that it is the perfect restaurant type to duplicate in different areas. It's going to be about 5,000 sq ft., which is a little smaller, but the same menu. Not as many menu changes seasonally. But we will be bringing Spaghetti Lobster back for good!

C.L.: By "different areas" - you mean you're planning more than one location for Osterias?

M.V.: It's possible. We take expansion very seriously and only do it if we have a "deep bench." This one has to be perfect before we venture out to others. But, it is definitely an option.

Reader: Chef - do you worry taking a restaurant like Osteria, and placing it in a suburban shopping mall may risk hurting the brand overall?

M.V.: I believe that to only be an issue if you are not prepared. We have been working hard to solidify every detail of Osteria now so it runs like a well-oiled machine. I don't see the harm in bringing it out there if we are confident that we can produce the same product.

Reader: Marc, we love your restaurants, the new Osteria at Moorestown Mall, will you serve lunch since it is in the mall?

Reader: Who will run the kitchen? We jealously guard Jeff Michaud and want him all to ourselves!

M.V.: Yes to lunch. The kitchen will be run by somebody in our organization now, but not sure who. We find it important to always promote from within. It keeps the product consistent.

Reader: Why Moorestown over KoP?

M.V.: First, Moorestown is actually closer and easier to get to. Second, we feel like we have an amazing partner with PREIT as the mall owner. They made us a great offer. We're not ruling out KOP . . . actually . . . there have been discussions.

C.L.: Speaking of PREIT, which owns the Gallery, the other project that keeps getting raised is the possibility of an Eataly-like endeavor - possibly at 8th and Market. What can you tell us ?

M.V: There has been lots of talk, back and forth, but nothing concrete yet. I don't know how excited they will be to do it if a casino goes up right across the street, though. I honestly took myself out of the discussions about 6 months ago. It's not really in my wheelhouse.

Reader: Do you think people in S.J. can appreciate the quality of food? More importantly will they pay the prices for the Vetri experience?

M.V: I do think they appreciate the quality. They are my customers now . . . they get it! As for paying Vetri prices, I'm opening Osteria, not Vetri. The prices will be similar to what people are used to.

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