Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 14
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

ITALIAN STYLE: “In Italian, ‘osteria’ means a small neighborhood place, offering simple, good food. That’s what I wanted this to be. I wanted to get back to the basics.” Tino Procaccini, owner of the new osteria, is shown by the terra cotta oven, known for baking delicious authentic Italian pizzas.

Pizzas, Paninis, and Friendly Atmosphere Highlight Kingston’s Osteria Procaccini

Tino Procaccini is no stranger to hard work. As a boy, he and his brother John helped out in their father’s landscaping company. Now, Tino is working harder than ever in his new business venture, Osteria Procaccini, at 4428 Route 27 North (Main Street) in Kingston.

When he was only 21 and John 24, the brothers opened La Principessa Ristorante in 1999, also in Kingston, and then later joined their cousins in opening Sotto Ristorante, now the Princeton Sports Bar & Grill.

Having his own restaurant was always Tino’s goal, and with his Italian background, it was natural to offer Italian cuisine. “Our family comes from Pettoranello, Princeton Township’s sister city. Our grandparents had an olive grove in Pettoranello, which we now own, and we get our extra virgin olive oil there,” explains Tino.

He especially liked the idea of offering a small, intimate “osteria” with quality food and a warm, friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere. “I really wanted to get back to the basics, using sustainable, all natural, organic, and local ingredients whenever I can. In the authentic Italian tradition, we select our simple whole ingredients and combine them by hand, using the time-honored method of terra cotta open flame cooking. Our concept is authentic Italian food free of artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners, flavors, and hydrogenated fats. We want to promote healthy eating.”

“La Dolce Vita”

And, it certainly is delicious as testified by the scores of customers who are lining up to enjoy the pizzas and paninis, as well as antipasti, salads, and special desserts.

“We are so happy that the customers like our cooking,” says Tino. “And it’s everyone — all ages, older people, families and kids. They come from all over the area, and some walk here. Kids come in after school and often have ‘La Dolce Vita’, our signature dessert with thin crust pizza dough, topped with chocolate hazelnut nutella, fresh seasonal fruits, and whipped cream.”

Pizzas are the specialty at the osteria, and include a variety of Italian favorites. “Our terra cotta oven can bake the pizzas at a very high heat — 800 to 850 degrees,” reports Tino. “The pizzas cook in 90 minutes and are light and crispy. Thin crust is our house specialty, and is the perfect foundation for our high quality tomatoes and cheese. It’s what we do best!

“We go back to the basics of Italian pizza. In Italy, the pizzas use tomato sauce from quality tomatoes, mozzarella, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil. We emphasize simple recipes, and everything is so fresh.

Light and Crisp

“Among the most popular pizzas are “Tino’s Margherita” with all-natural mozzarella, tomato sauce, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil, and the freshest basil available; “il Tartufo di Gianni” with organic san marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, Applegate Farms nitrate-free sausage, mushrooms, and white truffle oil imported from Italy; and “Ruchetta e Prosciutto”, featuring fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced proscuitto di parma, topped with baby arugula, shaved parmigiano, and Tino’s balsamic reduction.

The pizzas — all 12-inch and served whole (no slices) — are so light and crisp that customers can often eat more than they expect. “We have a-12 year-old boy who comes in, and he can eat two at one sitting,” points out Tino.

In addition to the pizzas, Osteria Procaccini has a selection of paninis, served on 7-grain or Italian ciabatta bread. “Gabriella” with roasted red peppers, sliced cucumbers, spring mix salad, plum tomatoes, feta cheese, red onion, hummus, sea salt, fresh pepper and oregano is a popular vegetarian choice. “Gianluca” features fresh mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, roasted peppers, topped with basil pasta. sea salt, fresh pepper, oregano, and balsamic vinegar.

There is an assortment of antipasti, always popular with diners, including the specialty of the house which serves four: assorted Italian salami, Italian cheeses, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. “Bruschetta”, another traditional Italian favorite, includes rustic bread slices topped with diced plum tomatoes, garlic, and seasoning with olive oil.

Favorite Desserts

Among the popular salads is “heirloom beet” with fire-roasted beets, goat cheese, walnuts, and baby arugula, tossed in the osteria’s signature balsamic vinaigrette. “Mela e noce” is another favorite featuring Granny Smith apples, walnuts, and gorgonzola over baby spinach, tossed with balsamic vinegar.

Homemade cannolis and tiramisu are favorite desserts, along with the aforementioned “La Dolce Vita”. A number of Italian beverages are available, as are coffee, espresso, cappuccino, and assorted teas. There is no liquor license, but customers enjoy bringing wine, especially in the evening.

The restaurant can accommodate 20 diners inside and an additional 30 out on the deck. Those wanting to dine al fresco had their first opportunity on one of the warmer March days. Private parties can also be accommodated.

Prices start at $10 for pizzas, $8 for paninis, and $4 and up for salads. Gift certificates are available.

“Our passion is great food and sharing it with our customers,” says Tino. “Here, you will find a return to authenticity. It’s all about the preparation and how you put it together. I am so happy with the response from our customers. I never expected to be so popular so soon. What I like best is the one-on-one with customers and of course, creating something special for them.

“We are also proud to operate a family business which offers green standards including our contribution to the environment and future generations. These standards involve recycling, composting waste, cleaning with natural agents, and using paper products and supplies from 100 percent recycled materials.”

Parking is available at the rear of the restaurant, and Osteria Procaccini serves lunch, dinner, and take-out. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 to 10, Sunday 4 to 9. (609) 688-0007. Further information is available on Facebook.

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