- scene: Nips and tucked in shirts on the ground floor; slightly younger crowd upstairs, but this is an adult place with the air of a special occasion
- sip: Whimsical list of cocktails; wine
- savor: Duck pasta; sea urchin pasta; ragu pasta; ANYTHING
- sit: With your parents or beau's parents; with another couple; with expense accounters, or friends from out of town
- spend: $$$$
- address: 1167 Madison Avenue
- phone number: (212) 249-0444
- website: www.ristorantemorini.com
Ristorante Morini is the restaurant that we have been waiting for from Michael White, ever since our beloved Fiamma shuttered. Not to take to away from the perfection of Marea, there is something about Ristorante Morini that just brings us back to those days at Fiamma, the first time that we fell in love with meaty ragus and depth -defying flavors in pastas. Although we have had many fancy, incredible meals , Fiamma for some reason always holds a special place in our heart; our family used to go there quite frequently. The success of Chef White’s manipulation of every item, from crudos to lamb to homemade pastas, makes us even stronger in our resolve that All’onda is cheap imitation of the real thing, an apprentice trying to please the master and failing miserably. All’oanda take note: THIS is what uni pasta should taste like.
Ristorante Morini is all the way uptown, and the crowd on the first floor was very much of the ‘hood- crocodile Birkins, suits, cashmere, etc. The space is nice but unremarkable, but extremely well- suited for people who live near by and might just want to eat at the bar or frequent the restaurant with some regularity. The upstairs is beautiful, restrained and elegant, but not stuffy. The lighting is warm and casts a pretty glow, and the room has an adult feel, much like old Fiamma, that is a fitting environ for the masterful creations that are brought to the table. And, let’s be clear, there was a lot of food on our table this meal, so the breakdown is below. Every dish was amazing, and there were a lot of just full-mouthed grunts and groans all around in lieu of actual praise.
Ricciolo Crudo-amberjack, uni, carrot puree, sopressata and crispy shallots-both subtle and outstanding, this little work of art did a number on my tongue; each ingredient was maximized and nothing was overdone.
Calamri- lots of surpring flavors in here,including burata, and of course it was cooked perfectly
Cauliflower Soup- if you think I cared about cauliflower soup when there was pasta on the table, then you can’t sit with me. It was white like Michael (White).
Agnolotti with duck confit parcels- these parcels were pillows of perfection that we almost made of the huge mistake of not ordering; every rich, meaty and wonderful (see title picture)
Gramigna with sea urchin, chiles – THIS is how uni pasta is done! Hearty and smooth, the sea urchin in this dish coats every bite, and is also found in lovely little chunks throughout. The salty, brininess of the uni makes this a true seaside dish, and the crab added some additional texture. I challenge anyone to tell me they like that smokey jokey mess at All’onda after eating this.
Gargenelli, ragu bolognese, sangiovese, parm-reggiano- There are no words. This dish was rustic and sophisticated at the same time, every bite a gift from the food gods.
Ferratina ala carbonara- this was the weakest link- the pasta was a bit limp and it really lacked that toothsome, salty punch of other carbonaras.
Agnello, pecorino crusted lamb chops- Daryl’s husband licked his plate clean so I would say those were a hit
Char-crispy skin, moist inside, hearty accompaniments, it was a pretty substantial fish dish, and Daryl loved every bite of it; oh, and it was pretty easy on the eyes
I honestly had to consult the pictures to see if we ordered a dessert (this was a little while ago, and the cocktails were delicious), but it was chocolatey and decadent, and do you really need to know more than that? Our waiter was not remarkable at all; a different table near by was ordering bottles of champers so he was too busy kissing their ass to pay proper attention to us, but the slack was picked up by competent bussers. Had the meal not been so delicious we might have been angrier about the service.
i believe that Ristorante Morini could be destined for the same accolades as Marea, although in a slightly less convenient location and slightly less splashy (get it, splashy, like the ocean?) decor. This meal sort of felt like an event, especially because the prices are high, but if I lived even remotely close by I would be tempted to pop into the bar and order a pasta or two for myself. Go now. Go! Go on, git…