I stopped on a whim for lunch at Osteria Shrewsbury a couple of weeks ago. So imagine my surprise when just a couple of days later I heard that their chef, Alessandro Degiorgio, had taken the prize of Best Chef 2023 at The Italian Awards!
The Mardol restaurant has only been open since August in its current incarnation, which was why I was curious to give it a try. But clearly Alessandro is doing something right! It was very, very quiet on the lunch time I visited though, and I enjoyed my meal so much that it did surprise me.
The menu is generally very reasonably priced, but they also have a selection of lunch specials for just £8 or £10 including a drink. That has to put it practically into cheap eats as far as town goes! I had the Maialona pizza, which is basically your all kinds of Italian meats as a topping. I was very close to ordering the Carbonara pizza, billed as a True Experience on the menu. It has a mozzarella base, crispy guanciale with egg yolk, pecorino and black pepper. It does sound mental, but in an excellent way.
I enjoyed a crisp Chardonnay with citrus vibes and great acidity while I waited. The restaurant has a kind of rustic charm to it, with Italian imagery in a sort of graffiti style on the walls. It’s sort of homely, comfortable, modern and unfussy all at the same time.
Pizza My Heart
My pizza didn’t take long to arrive and it was a monster! I was wondering whether I should have stuck with the lunch pizzette instead of going full size… But I managed it. Purely in the name of research, you understand. I love getting my own little pizza cutter at the table. The first slice I lifted up immediately transported me back to Italian trips past. There is just something about the smell of an authentic pizza dough baked in a proper oven that is so evocative.
Knowing nothing (then) about the chef, I’ll admit to being a little surprised and delighted. Pillowy and crisp at the edge, the thick crust whittled down to practically nothing at all in the centre, as anyone who has been to Italy will be familiar with. There were plenty of toppings, but not too many. Again, a signature of authenticity for me.
My meal was £10 and I was happy to pay the one pound service charge on top too, as the staff were so friendly and precise. Even more that the waiter pointed out the service charge to me and was very clear that it was optional and it was fine if I did not want to pay it. Not like others I could mention 😂
It was so quiet during my visit, I was sure I’d got myself a hidden gem. But now they’ve been given such a prestigious national award it’s clear there’s nothing new under the sun. I can’t wait to go back though. There’s a Champagne and truffle chicken on the menu with my name on it, not to mention the braised meat ravioli. Oh, and about a dozen more things that I should dearly like to try.
I visited Osteria because I was hungry and I paid for my meal in full. My opinion is still an honest reflection of my experience. I cannot be bought, yo.