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Ostra and Urbanna: A natural fit

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by Tom Hardin

Ostra raw bar and grille opened on Virginia Street in Urbanna about 11 months ago, and co-owners Paul Nelson, Bo Stephenson and Aaron Avitan are pleased with how the restaurant has progressed and been received by the community.

“Very rare do I ever hear anything negative,” said Nelson. “We do our very best to listen to everyone, and the majority of our business comes from locals who have returned to the restaurant.”

Nelson is the hospitality director, Stephenson is the chef, and Avitan is in charge of security and loss prevention. “These two guys (Nelson and Stephenson) are in the trenches and I’m a set of fresh eyes on the situation,” said Avitan.

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From left are Ostra raw bar and grille owners Bo Stephenson, Paul Nelson and Aaron Avitan.

The three men all live in Urbanna and foresee nothing but continued success for Ostra. “It all comes down to the quality of the food,” said Nelson. “It’s great to see Bo create art in the form of food.”

Ostra specializes in fresh seafood, chicken, pork and beef dishes. It also has a raw bar featuring raw, steamed and grilled oysters, raw and steamed clams, spiced shrimp, and steamed snow crab legs.

A comfortable 30-seat full bar with two TVs—staffed by mixologist Heath Dye and Jack Horton—is separate from the dining area.

In addition to seating in the dining room and bar, Ostra has a shaded outside patio with several tables. In all, the restaurant can seat up to 98.

Stephenson said the most popular items on the menu include his signature porterhouse pork chop, which is brined for a day, marinated for a day, and then grilled and served with a “made-from-scratch apple sauce.”

“Everything Bo makes is good,” said Avitan.

Stephenson said he makes everything he can from scratch and seeks the freshest products at local farmers’ markets and seafood distributors. He even has his own herb garden.

Dinner music is supplied by the town piano man, Jack Mulligan, and Ostra also has bands entertain on some weekends after the kitchen closes at 10 p.m.

Ostra, which is Spanish for oyster, is located next to the Chesapeake Inn, which was opened in 2009 by John Milby, Bill Bridgeforth and other partners. They also own the restaurant building.

“They saw something in us and they go beyond being typical landlords in helping us. They are great people,” said Nelson.

Ostra is open for lunch Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; for dinner Wednesday through Saturday from 4-10 p.m.; and for a weekend brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

For more information, call 758-4440.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 07.24.2013

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