A contrast to Michael White’s chic and fancy Alto (now shuttered), Osteria Morini is an unassuming, cozy, assessable restaurant with amazing food. The best brunch I’ve enjoyed in a long time, it’s a wonderful restaurant in SoHo and certainly did not disappoint for a Sunday afternoon meal.
According to NY Magazine, there was great authenticity and attention to detail and I was impressed to learn, “it’s a painstakingly reproduced homage—this time to the cooking of Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s great eating regions—replete with burnt-orange terra-cotta façade and potted cypress trees outside the door. The name refers to the owner of the famous San Domenico restaurant in Imola, near Bologna, where White worked for seven years. The blocky, farm-style tables and chairs were built for the restaurant in Emilia-Romagna itself. Even the wooden rafters in the ceiling were imported from an actual Italian farmhouse.”
We arrived at 2 p.m. to a respectably full restaurant (especially for an off hour) and were greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable waiter. After discussing their mare (seafood salad) with a foodie friend the night before, I knew that that was a must, in addition to a pasta dish. I ended up going with their tortellini, stuffed with mortadella and other meaty goodness, topped with asparagus, peas, red peppers and a cream sauce. The tortellini was a delight unto itself, but the mare was really the show stopper.
An Adriatic style seafood salad with assorted gems of the sea, this salad also came with slices of green olive, lemon and capers. Each bite was more magical than the previous and this salad rivaled (may have been even better than) the famous Rao’s. The fish was fresh, tender and very perfectly cooked. To further compliment, it was dressed lightly with only lemon and olive oil, and celery ribbons were incorporated for flavor and crunch. Days later, I’m still dreaming of the deliciousness that was the mare, and would make a trip, specifically for that.
My dining companions thoroughly enjoyed their food, as well, and it was a rare brunch that we were all raving about our dishes.