Recipe For Success

Osteria Southside, a New Italian Restaurant, Opens Today

The new spot replaces Reef Cakes in Southside Village.

By Lauren Jackson April 10, 2023

Osteria Southside opens today, April 10.

Osteria Southside opens today, April 10.

Longtime Southside Village restaurateurs Rami Nehme, owner of Origin Craft Beer & Pizza Café, and Michael Calore, owner of since-closed restaurants Pazzo Southside and Mozzarella Fella, are partnering on a new Italian restaurant, Osteria Southside, which opens today. Nehme owns the business along with Zack Adkins, and Calore will oversee kitchen operations, bringing his beloved Italian recipes back to life at this new location.

“I’m just so excited to have someone to learn from. I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing the way I’ve been doing it for so long,” Nehme says of Calore. “It’s nice to have somebody else who has owned restaurants next to you and helping you.”

The respect Nehme and Calore have for one another is evident. They met when Calore was operating Mozzarella Fella, an Italian spot on Main Street in downtown Sarasota that opened in 2011 and was renowned for its sandwiches. The pair became friends when Calore opened Pazzo down the street from Origin in Southside Village.

“I would get off work at the Hillview Origin and go over there afterward. I was so impressed that every time I was there, he was there," Nehme says. "Then he came by after he left Pazzo, and we started talking. I told him I was taking over this space and that he was welcome to join me to help run the kitchen."

“The two of us work well together because there are things that he knows that are going to help me a lot, too. It’s a perfect fit,” Calore says.

Visitors to the new restaurant space can expect a revival of some of their favorite sandwiches at Mozzarella Fella during lunch hours. Nehme’s favorite was the No. 8, made with grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella and sautéed mushrooms and onions, and it was clear the sandwich had to make a comeback.

“It would have been a deal-breaker. I feel like I see [requests for] the No. 8 in a lot of our social media comments, so it can’t just be me,” Nehme jokes.

“We had 22 sandwiches on our menu at Mozzarella Fella. Here, we’re going to keep it simpler," Calore says. "But don’t worry, we’ll switch it up. If you can’t get your favorite the first time, it might be there the next time you come."

In the evening, the menu will showcase traditional Italian-style dishes like lasagna, meatballs, and slow-braised short ribs over risotto.

“We also came up with a pork osso buco, which is unbelievable. I had never made it before, so we collaborated on it,” Calore says.

Nehme and Calore say there will also be plenty of options available for healthy dinners and are putting the final touches on a roasted vegetable salad as well as a fresh fish special.

This week, guests are invited to swing by for lunch, which will be served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Starting next week, on April 17, dinner hours will be introduced, and  the restaurant will be open all day, until 10 p.m.

Nehme and Calore agree that they want to create an experience that will keep diners coming back.

“We both want a quality product, we both want to treat our customers great and we both want to be there for our families," Nehme says. "For us to start with so much in common, I think there's nowhere to go but up.”

Osteria Southside is located at 1812 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota. Starting April 17, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

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