In this series we aim to feature all of our favorite restaurants in Ithaca. Stay tuned – we’re going to be at this for a while!
Ithaca is lucky to host several outstanding Italian restaurants. Among these, Gola Osteria stands out as a truly unique and elevated experience. Gola Osteria is located in the Quarry Arms building, Ithaca’s former City Hospital, on East Hill. Locating the restaurant involves being buzzed in at the main entrance via the intercom and winding your way through the hallways of the hospital-turned-apartment-building, following signs until you reach the main entrance to the establishment. As you walk through the door, you witness a magical transformation from stark, clinical hallways to warm, inviting, lavish eatery. The staff is attentive, the bar well stocked, and the menu sublime.
If you’re lucky and it’s nice out, you’ll be seated on the patio overlooking the beautiful Six Mile Creek Gorge. If you’re very slightly less lucky, you’ll be seated in the warmly lit, beautifully decorated interior. In either case, you’re in for a visual, olfactory, and gastronomic treat.
Gola Osteria offers numerous choices that may be considered atypical. We have never been disappointed with a single one. From the Caesar-esque salad topped with real anchovies to the beet and goat cheese ravioli to the grilled quail, each dish is a complex adventure into unexpected flavor combinations. Perhaps the most striking is the black spaghetti, surrounded with clams and coated with a perfectly rich and tangy sauce. The spaghetti is colored and flavored with squid ink, which imparts a subtle, unique flavor that is out of this world.
Dessert? You’re probably too full for it. But go on, do it anyway. Powdery, dense, rich doughnuts are served street-food style in a simple brown paper bag. The panna cotta is light and fluffy and tempered with a deep balsamic reduction. The cannoli is light and flaky, filled with a deep and weighty cream. All told, a deeply satisfying meal.
Gola Osteria is not a budget dining establishment. Gola Osteria is the place you go when you’re looking for more than a meal- you’re looking for an experience. In our opinion, the best way to achieve that experience is to put your trust in their waitstaff and chefs – ask them to select your meal for you. Give them a price cap for the table and sit back as they assemble a perfectly balanced multi-course family-style meal just for you. All in all, this is one of Ithaca is Foodies’ favorite spots in Ithaca – definitely essential eats.