Osteria Morini is Michael White’s more casual downtown Italian eatery compared with his award-winning Central Park Marea, an Italian seafood masterpiece. The thing about Chef White’s restaurants are that he has an older crowd following as well as the younger food heads (I don’t believe in the word foodie). All ages flock to his cooking and want to experience his flavors and taste. Osteria Morini’s space reminded me of some of my favorite Italian restaurants back home in Houston. It’s a very large open room for a Manhattan spot and full of families, first and third dates and young people all at once. Framed black and white photos are pasted on the walls and aluminum and brass colored pots and pans line the back by the kitchen. The hardest part is deciding which of the 13 handmade pastas to order. Spoiler alert: the Tagliatelle is bomb. It’s delivered steaming (but not too hot) on a small plate with just the right amount of ragu and parmesan cheese ratio. The addition of the carrots in the ragu sauce adds the magic touch. It’s standard, al dente pasta and it’s awesome. If you can’t decide between the Cappelletti with truffled ricotta and melted butter, Gramigna with pork sausage and swiss chard or Creste with shrimp and seppia ragu, pop in on Monday industry nights after 9:30 p.m. when White serves all pastas for 10 bucks. Getcha some.
As for entrees, I loved the Brodetto which is a standard Bouillabaise in a light tomato broth overflowing with my bff, the crustacean and other seafood. It has calamari, scallops, fish, shrimp, clams and huge, tastey mussels. The seafood is better quality but just as pleasing and as Bianca’s up the street which is my all time favorite. The special dry aged 14 oz. ribeye is obviously a huge hunk of meat and will please any Texan boy. Get this juicy beast cooked medium rare. I spent most of my time hacking away at the Cauliflower and Escarole gratin. It’s a nice mix of texture, great size portion and delicious. Osteria Morini is an amazing downtown Italian go-to. You can easily make this your neighborhood spot and will feel revived after each bite.