Step out of the cold and into the cozy at Onesto Italian in the Third Ward. The warm glow of the overhead lights - which look like golden glass balloons - adds to the ambience and had me slightly mesmerized throughout the night. The interior boasts my favorite decor in this area - exposed ductwork, dark woodwork, and Cream City brick walls.
Our table was ready after just a few sips - the hostess apologized for the wait, but it was so minimal that it was unnecessary. I was grateful that we were seated at a back table, farthest from the front door, so we didn't feel any draft from outside. Our waitress was also extremely friendly and knowledgeable in what was gluten-free - or could be modified to do so - on the menu. She was happy to check with the kitchen to confirm what was safe for me to eat. She was patient with us as we read the menu over and over; it was so hard trying to decide what we all wanted to try, so we ended up putting in our order course-by-course as we came to our decisions.
There were two soups available tonight; both were gluten-free so we got a cup of each. The roasted chicken vegetable soup tasted like it was straight out of grandma's kitchen - it was the perfect way to cut through this week of bitter cold, snowy weather. The tomato soup tasted roasted, with a hint of peppers, very thick and delicious, with a garnish of shredded basil on top (they left off the croutons to make it gluten-free). Between the two of us, both cups were almost licked clean.
The arugula prosciutto salad included juicy purple grapes, chunks of celery, and a smattering of mushrooms, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. It could have used a little less dressing, and I added a bit of ground black pepper, but overall it was a great combination of sweet and savory flavors.
We walked away, satisfied but not overly stuffed, with enough leftovers to make at least 2 more small meals. Definitely check out this warm, friendly spot - especially during the blast of winter weather we're having!
5.0 stars for service
4.5 stars for food
5.0 stars for decor
4.5 stars for value/price