Coming back from Wheaton in late December the restaurant that I probably heard the most about was Osteria Morini (the second probably being Lavo for some strange reason). Michael White’s latest restaurant takes White’s usual Italian theme but looks to make it more traditional and less upscale at Osteria Morini. Next to powerhouses like La Esquina and Balthazar it would be tough for a new comer to be so popular but with Michael White behind this restaurant its no wonder it became to popular so quickly. I originally had intended to go there for dinner but getting a reservation is very difficult for dinner (each time I’ve called I got the famous “we have 5:30 or 11) so I decided to go one day at the awkward hour of 4 PM. The restaurant was transitioning from their lunch to dinner service and they were serving their bar menu (which is essentially a shortened dinner menu). The restaurant is much less formal than Marea or Ai Fiori especially since neither of White’s other restaurants have mismatched chairs, wooden cupboards and used pots hanging from their walls.
Though the decor isn’t as grand as Michael White’s other New York restaurants it doesn’t mean the food isn’t as good. Though I can’t say anything for Ai Fiori since I’ve never been but what I had at Osteria Morini would make me go back as much as Marea made me want to go back there. Though I really don’t like judging a restaurant on one dish, this happened to be the case with Osteria Morini. So the Creste was the make or break dish with Osteria Morini for me. Overall the dish was very good. The creste, crescent pasta, was cooked perfectly but what won me over was the freshness of the seafood and the lightness of the sauce. It really was a fantastic dish and I would hope all the other dishes at Osteria Morini would be just as good because then it’d be a great option when La Esquina’s reservation line refuses to answer their phones…again.
Osteria Morini is an excellent option when in Soho or actually a great option for Italian food in general. Though the Cipriani Downtown still remains my favorite Italian restaurant overall, Osteria Morini is a cheaper option (meat dishes at Osteria Morini cost the same as pasta dishes at the Cipriani) than the Cipriani and the food is just as good.