Italian dining takes root at Osteria Ciccheti’s

Juliane Bullard | Lifestyles Editor


Osteria Cicchetti’s main dining room displays relics that are from another time. The rustic natural wood tabletops coupled with cherry wood dining booths transport one to an era when wine was sipped from brass goblets. Rusted mirrors broken up in framed cherry wood, to match the booths, skirt the walls at mid-waist. Wine sits behind steel cages and decorating the corners of the restaurant sit stocks of wheat bunched in creamy colored ceramic urns that are as tall as a toddler reaching for the cookie jar. Columns that look like remnants of the Coliseum itself divide the room. However, the ornate columns, that look like they have been dipped in coffee to appear older than they are, are a stark contrast to the feeling in the room: comfortable informality.


With bare bulbs dangling from exposed pipes and two votive candles at every table, Osteria Cicchetti’s makes dining at the local tavern an intimate experience. A table of UNCW professors sit in the corner, a couple whose gray hair peaks out the temples of their heads sit closely nuzzled in another, and a family with several squeaky and boisterous young children in the back room makes Osteria Cicchetti’s a place for all ages.


Within minutes a waiter fills glasses from a tall pitcher of water that is left on the table. Brought straight in the baker’s pan is Italian bread still lightly dusted with flour. While the slightly scorched pan suggests warm, doughy bread just taken out of the oven, it is cold and doesn’t taste authentic. However, the buttery and crispy flat bread that breaks with a sharp snap makes up for the lack-luster loafs of traditional Italian bread.  Hearty, filling and bottomless, it’s not exactly what you want before courses where diets and portion control is not a priority.


While the endless pans of bread are dangerous for calorie counters, the cold plate is a must have appetizer. Any combination of spreads, bruschette, cicchetti, cheese, and meat is available but the soft and sharp fontina cheese is the highlight of the options. It complements the meat options and can be easily paired with the bread for a mini sandwich before the main course.


While the menu is full of traditional Italian meals, many of which are not commonly known, the staff is able to accurately describe and recommend entrée’s anyone would enjoy.

For picky eaters, the spaghetti cicchetti puts a slight spin on the traditional spaghetti and meatballs with the addition of semi-spicy Italian sausage and parmesan cheese stuffed meatballs. While the dish could have used more meat and less pasta, the overall effect of a hearty dish was achieved with lots of room for leftovers.


However, the most sumptuous entrée available is the rigate melanzane which boasts the most flavorful eggplant even a carnivore would drool at. The light, salty, and squishy eggplant is mixed throughout the dish so that a taste of it is taken in every bite. The complexity of flavors between the eggplant and the mozzarella sprinkled over pasta shells was a delicious spin to a vegetarian meal.


Osteria Cicchetti’s brings back menu items that seem to originate from the old country. The variety of cold plate options, portions the size of your head, and everything made fresh from local producers whenever possible, is just the beginning to what makes Osteria Cicchetti’s a place to frequent again and again. Osteria Cicchetti’s is Italian dining done right.