Osteria Morini and Marea
June 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
Two Michael White-owned restaurants in this post today: Osteria Morini and Marea
Osteria Morini is White’s more casual and homey trattoria in Soho, a great neighborhood spot where you can drop by, sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of red wine with one of their amazing pastas. Laura and I shared all of our dishes – a comforting and creamy chard and artichoke gratin, the cappelletti and the spaghetti. The cappelletti is a truffled ricotta ravioli with melted butter and prosciutto and one of our favorites. The portion may look small but it’s packed with so much flavor and richness that after several bites, you feel completely satiated. We also tried the spaghetti alle vongole for the first time and the brininess and acidity of the pasta was a nice foil against the cappelletti. Another great dinner at Osteria Morini.
The second Michael White meal was an amazing, first-time dinner at his flagship by Columbus Circle, Marea. Seafood and pasta reign supreme here and there’s a four course prix fixe menu for $99 that might be one of the greatest upscale dinner deals in the city. Alice and I started with a complimentary amuse bouche, a selection of freshly baked olive and onion focaccia breads (which I had to force myself to stop eating after two pieces) and the ricci – the famous sea urchin and lardo with sea salt on toast, possibly the most gluttonous and delicious crostini/bruschetta you could ever have.
For our antipasti, Alice chose the artichokes with blue crab, bottarga (salted and cured mullet roe) and garbanzo beans, a really beautiful plate, and I ordered the Nova Scotia lobster with burrata, eggplant al funghetto and basil, surprisingly refreshing and well balanced in its flavors.
My primi course was the fusilli with bone marrow, baby octopus and red wine sauce, one of the most popular dishes at Marea and with good reason. The fresh pasta was perfectly cooked and the sauce had delicious little nuggets of umami thanks to the marrow. Alice’s pasta of strozzapreti with jumbo lump crab, sea urchin and basil looked amazing as well. How could that be bad? We also asked for wine recommendations for this course and the following course and the sommelier’s suggestions were totally on point.
For our main courses, I ordered the capesante – four enormous seared sea scallops, crispy potato, morels, lamb’s quarters and mushroom cream. The morels and greens had a lovely, earthy flavor that complemented the sweet and tender scallops. Alice’s monkfish with romanesco and mushrooms was also a beautiful looking dish. At this point, we were starting to really struggle with how much food we’d eaten at this point as the portions for the prix fixe were very generous.
Finally, dessert. Both were gorgeous looking dishes but I could only take a few bites of my budino al limone (a lemon pudding torta served with honey and blackberry fennel sorbetto) before throwing my hands up and surrendering. They also presented some mignardises and a mini crumb cake to take home for breakfast the next day, which was a great end to a hell of a meal. I will definitely be back.
Gelato and Osteria Morini
April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
Dessert before dinner. That’s how Laura and I started this evening of eating, which turned out to be all about Italian flavors. We actually stumbled upon this outpost of L’Arte del Gelato by accident, tucked away into the corner of 7th Avenue and Barrow Street, and after a long afternoon of wandering downtown on a sunny day, we couldn’t wait until after dinner for a sweet bite. Laura had the mixed berry and amaretto (my new favorite) and I had grapefruit campari with budino di riso (rice). What I always love about the gelato here is the incredibly bright and intense flavors – grapefruit is slightly bitter but sweet and bursting with citrus, amaretto tastes like the purest form of almond aside from eating the nut itself.
After more walking, we were completely exhausted and starving once again (no surprise there). Luckily, we were very close to Osteria Morini, Michael White’s more casual Italian restaurant, and sat down to a very leisurely meal of cured meats and insanely good pastas.
We began with a selection of meats and cheese – prosciutto di Parma, sopressata (a sweet cured pork sausage), and quadrello di Bufala (a semi-soft cheese made from buffalo’s milk). Our selection also came with a generous side of accompaniments and bread. There was grilled bread, bread studded with currants, and a puffy bun-like bread along with dried figs, roasted almonds, and a master-fat-like spread tasting strongly of pork and herbs. I can never really find complain about good quality cured meats and these were superb, and as someone who usually doesn’t care much for cheese, this buffalo’s milk choice was quite good, not too funky and quite creamy and smooth.
The pastas, however, were the hands-down highlights of the meal, and I finally got to see what all the Michael White fuss is about. If he make a seemingly simple meat sauce this great, I can’t wait to see what he does with the bone marrow and baby octopus fusilli dish at Marea. We ordered the cappelletti, a truffled ricotta ravioli with melted butter and prosciutto, and the gramigna, macaroni with pork sausage, peas, cream, and black pepper.
I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but these dishes were among the most comforting, yet most intensely flavored, pastas I’ve ever had, and you could tell that they had been made fresh. The cappelletti especially hit you on the head with its truffle and ricotta filling – creamy, earthy, and out of this world – and didn’t even need the extra prosciutto to make a strong impression. The gramigna was equally packed with flavor; the pasta had the perfect texture and wasn’t overwhelmed by the pork sausage and cream sauce, and that extra sprinkling of Parmiggiano didn’t hurt either.
So, another Italian food gem in Soho. This, like OTTO, is a place that’s perfect for unwinding after a long day at work or school. You could just pull up a chair at the bar, order a glass of red wine or a cocktail and one of the amazing pastas, and just take your time savoring each bite.
L’arte del Gelato
75 7th Avenue S (Barrow Street)
New York, NY
218 Lafayette Street
New York, NY