Read the definition of an Italian osteria, and one discovers these are welcoming wine bars that have evolved to serve local specialties such as pasta and grilled meat or fish, catering to diners looking for a satisfying meal after work, with some liquid refreshment thrown in for good measure. Tiu Steppi’s on Bulverde Road is a restaurant that meets this standard as a great neighborhood place to relax and have a drink or two while enjoying Italian specialties.
Tiu Steppi’s Osteria serves the happy hour crowd, after-school families stopping in for an early dinner and couples enjoying a casual date night. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, with plenty of free parking at its location in the Bulverde Marketplace Shopping Center.
Steve Warner was the chef and owner who originally helped open the restaurant in November 2015. He sold his interest in the establishment to his partners in 2017. That partnership, Bwarner Farace, LLC now owns and runs the restaurant, as well as two other locations — one at Braun Road and Loop 1604 and a second eatery at the Texas cuisine-focused Two Step Restaurant and Cantina.
Steven Ybarra has been Tui Steppi’s general manager since its opening and thinks of the osteria as a place that families and millennial urbanites alike can enjoy.
“Everything is made in-house except for the pasta,” Ybarra said. “That applies to everything from antipasti to our hand-tossed pizzas and chef’s specials, to our selection of desserts.”
Their happy hour is among the best in San Antonio — and not just because of the extensive happy hour appetizer selection for $5 from 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The other five days of the week, Tiu Steppi’s happy hour lasts twice as long, from 4 p.m. until their 10 p.m. closing time. Their rotating craft beer selection ranges from local producers like Busted Sandal and Branchline to national craft beers such as Italy’s Perroni Natro and Azzurro. The restaurant also has a variety of wines available at lower price points.
“Our prices per glass for wine, as well as our bottle prices, are competitive with what’s available in San Antonio and probably among the lowest prices in the city,” Ybarra said.
As one enters the restaurant, the unmistakable smell of baking pizza dough steadily escaping from the penny-covered Italian brick pizza oven beckons. You may even catch the scent of Tui Steppi’s popular garlic knots, crusty pizza rolls enveloped in garlicky butter and baked in the wood-burning stove. Make room for the garlic knots; they are worth the gluten-laden calories. If you must avoid gluten, ask for the gluten-free pizza, garlic knots or pasta instead. Tui Steppi’s offers delicious gluten-free versions of their breads and pasta dishes.
Signature dishes include the chicken piccata, which is one of their most popular entrees. The sautéed chicken breasts come with perfectly cooked artichoke hearts, crispy prosciutto pieces and a tender mix of wild mushrooms, accompanied by just enough lemon and white wine butter sauce seasoned with shallots and capers. Lighter entrees include different salads, such as the Greek salad that can be ordered with grilled chicken or shrimp.
Pizzas range from the classic Pizza Margherita — the typical Neapolitan pizza made with San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella, garnished with ribbons of fresh basil — to the Italian pizza, heaped high with deli-sliced pepperoni, soppressata — a type of Italian dry salami, slices of house-made Italian sausage and a mix of mozzarella and Asiago cheeses.
“That Italian pizza is our No. 1 seller,” Ybarra said.
Desserts include panna cotta, tiramisu, vanilla crème brulee and a chocolate and cappuccino flavored torte. If your hankering for Italian food does not include sitting in the restaurant, Tiu Steppi’s delivers or can take your phone order for pickup. For both Mother’s and Father’s Days, Tiu Steppi’s will offer a special dinner menu, with more details available on its website.
With its variety of craft beers and reasonably priced wines, its many entrees and gluten-free options, the large portions, generous happy hours and casual ambiance, there’s always a reason to visit Tui Steppi’s Osteria.
By Iris Gonzalez
Photography by Janet Rogers