NYC Dining Guide: Osteria Morini

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Chef Michael White of Marea and Costata achieves the seemingly unachievable with his Italian restaurant Osteria Morini: He transports you into rustic Italy with authentic dishes and a fairytale ambiance that will make you feel like you are tucked away in an Italian village rather than New York City’s Soho neighborhood.

I had the pleasure of dining at Osteria Morini with a friend on a recent Friday night, and was satiated on all counts. That’s a high bar as I’ve spent weeks and weeks of my life in Italy indulging in pastas, seafoods and wine.

Let’s start with the feel of the restaurant. Red brick walls, wooden tables, copper pots and pans hanging from the walls alongside vintage mirrors. As if that wasn’t enough to stir up the aesthetic of Italy, behind the bar there is an old-school style slumber of sorts, complete with a meat slicer for fresh prosciutto and other Italian delicacies in a freezer window.

We started the night with a bottle of wine from a distinctly Italian wine list, organized by region. If you’re a fan of Brunello, this is a great spot, as the wine list boasts five different bottles. The wine list has a great range of options, from bottles starting at $40 up to more than $700. We opted for a great bottle from Lazio called Cesanese Amarasco for $48. The cocktails were also quite interesting, and there is an entire section of the menu dedicated to Negroni drinks.
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Now onto the food. The menu has so many tantalizing options that we had a hard time choosing. For starters, we went with the prosciutto and mortadella meatballs which were to die for. The sauce alone was worth ordering the dish for, and we gladly sopped up leftover sauce with out bread. Would absolutely recommend this appetizer.
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We also had the fig and straciatella special appetizer which is pretty much my idea of heaven on a plate. It was garnished with walnuts, rosemary and balsamic, and was simultaneously creamy and light.

When it came time to choosing our entrees, it was overwhelming. The menu has a number of homemade pastas that sound just delectable. But, it also had lots of different meat and fish dishes as well. After flip-flopping back and forth between pasta or something more light, we opted for the porchetta and sea bream.
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But, as if reading our minds, before the main course arrived, the restaurant sent out a delicious cappelletti dish, which are these delicate pasta purses stuffed with truffled ricotta in a butter and prosciutto sauce. Our waiter said we would be remiss not to try the pasta, and he was right. This dish was absolutely to die for and will be a go-to on future visits.
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Next, came the entrees. The Porchetta is a house specialty, and is a spit-roasted pork with rosemary and sage with the most delicious, salty crackling. I had the catch of the day — a sea bream in a tomato, garlic and lemon sauce with capers and olives that was very flavorful. We also had the parmesan potatoes and green beans.

At the end of the meal, we couldn’t even fit dessert (but the pan cotta looked great!). Overall, a delightful experience where Italian cuisine is taken seriously and executed on the highest levels. For the health-conscious, the menu had plenty of high-protein, low carb dishes to choose from as well.

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