Morini’s cure for missing Italy

In a reversal of roles, my sister is in Italy right now and I’m stuck at home. She’s there on a spring break trip as part of her advertising major’s curriculum and after a week of visiting agencies in different cities, she’ll get class credit for it.

Basically, I’m jealous. I want to be on vacation right now. I want to eat my way through Italy  for a week (or a lifetime).  But no, I can’t. Not right now. So to make myself feel better about this fact, I pulled off a hard to snag, last minute reservation for two at  Osteria Morini, Michael White’s new SoHo restaurant.

Fritto bolognese

While the scenery wasn’t as nice (SoHo’s cool but it ain’t Italy), the restaurant itself was cozy and cute, going for that rustic trattoria look (even if the prices were definitely more big city than Italian countryside). For not leaving the country, it was a pretty delicious alternative.

Quail and farro with grilled veggies and sage

I have a weakness for all things fried, so the fritto bolognese was a no brainer to start things off. Morini focuses on the cuisine of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, famous for its hearty dishes and rich ingredients, and this appetizer sampler was just that. On the plate were skewered cubes of mortadella (the original bologna, actually from Bologna), crispy round patties of polenta topped with buttery, almost sinfully delicious lardo, and crunchy crochettes that oozed thick, creamy bechamel.

Flaneur, not following in my fried footsteps, went for the quail on a bed of farro, a not-on-the-menu antipasto special. Juicy, plump pieces of tender quail meat were skewered and served over earthy, soft farro and grilled zucchini, all of it given a woodsy, herbal spice from fat sage leaves.

Tortelli della nonna

The cuisine of the Emilia-Romagma region is very pasta heavy, with lots of ribbons and corkscrews and twists of  egg noodles in addition to filled pockets of deliciousness like tortellini and ravioli, so that’s what we went for next.  Flaneur ordered the tortelli della nonna, fat little bundles of braised beef in a  sugo d’arrosto (the juice and drippings from a meat roast) and grated fossa cheese.

Garganelli with cream, truffle butter and prosciutto

I opted for the garganelli, twisty quill shaped noodles bathed in a golden yellow sauce of Battenkill cream, truffle butter and prosciutto. Like the best dishes in the Emilia-Romagna tradition, it was rich, filling, and deeply comforting and delicious. It was like the food equivalent of a long, warm bear hug from someone you love and haven’t seen in a long time. ::sigh::

Am I still a little jealous that my sister got to gallavant around Italy this week and I didn’t? Hmm, yea. Did Osteria Morini cradle me in its arms and stuff me full of delicious food and tell me, It’s ok, you’ll go next? Yes, yes it did. And I’m a little less jealous for it.

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