Saturday, March 15, 2014

Osteria Morini

Osteria Morini is named after Chef Michael White’s mentor Gianluigi Morini, the owner and founder of acclaimed restaurant San Domenico in Imola. Located in the Yards Park area of Capitol Hill, the restaurant draws strongly from White’s personal experience in Emilia-Romagna, where he worked under Chef Valentino Marcattilii for seven years. Morini's menus offers a wide array of smaller plates and larger composed platters by Executive Chef Matt Adler.  Closest Metro is Navy Yard.

Guests are encouraged to begin their meal with a variety of cured meats, crostini, antipasti and other small starters to share. White’s signature pasta offerings are served with a variety of traditional ragus and delicately stuffed pastas from Emilia-Romagna. Meats also have a starring role in the entrees, especially the Carne ai Ferri (simply grilled meats and spit roasts). The wine list includes affordable wine selections focusing on the north central regions of Liguria, Umbria, Tuscany, Southern Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche, with sparkling wines like prosecco and lambrusco strongly represented.

Photo via Osteria Morini website
As their website describes: "The décor certainly has inspiration from the original Osteria Morini in Soho, New York but also reflects the mood and location of the DC Yards development. The rustic and convivial ambience features high ceilings and exposes a fully open chef's kitchen for guests to enjoy the theatre of their meal unfolding before their eyes.  In Italian, “osteria” means a place where the owner “hosts” guests.  It is a relaxed place to be with friends and family."  And so to celebrate my birthday a few days early, I went to Osteria Morini for dinner with Keith and my parents.

With the recent change of daylight savings, the sun was still out for another hour or so before setting, so the light flooded the window lined room softly and provided a great view of the water.  We ordered red wine from Emilia-Romagna to share along with some appetizers.  We chose a selection of Battilardo di Affettati y Formaggi (meat and cheese) to nibble on as we chatted.  Our board came with 18 month prosciutto di Parma 18, sopressata (spicy cured pork sausage), taleggio (semi-soft cow's milk cheese), and crostini, puffed Italian rolls, jelly, and a spicy lardo spread.  There was a lot of meat compared to only 3 small pieces of cheese, but overall we enjoyed this starter.  

We also shared hot appetizers of scallops with lentils, lardo, and salsa verde called Capesante.  The scallops were perfectly cooked and this warm dish was very flavorful and comforting.  My dad and Keith shared another hot starter of Polpettineprosciutto & mortadella meatballs in a rustic pomodoro sauce, served with grilled bread.  My dad commented how light these meatballs were despite being full of meat, and was really intrigued on how they made them this way.  Sometimes meatballs can be dense or are too light from too much filler, but these were just right and my dad and Keith enjoyed them very much.

For our main courses, our server warned that they would be large enough to share amongst the table, so we tried to choose wisely.  First, my dad picked the Spaghetti with shrimp, arugula pesto, fennel, and pine nuts.  He shared his dish with me, and we thought the spaghetti was so lemony and bright and was our favorite of the night.  Even on our drive home, my dad commented how he'd like to recreate the dish at home some day.  I picked another pasta dish for us to share- the Bucatini with crab, sea urchin, and basil in a spicy tomato sauce.  The noodles had a nice bite to them, and the crab meat was substantial and sweet to counterbalance against the spicy tomato sauce.

My mother chose a lighter seafood stew called Brodetto.  The Adriatic-style seafood soup came loaded with  scallops, mussels, shrimp, clams, and basil in a tomato-based broth.  More delicious grilled bread was served with this dish and my mother enjoyed it very much.  Keith chose a more heartier dish called Stracotto.  Sangiovese-braised short ribs were presented on a bed of whipped potatoes, topped with gremolata.  This style of slow-cooked meat can sometimes end in a mushy mess, but these short ribs still had bite and were full of deep flavor.  

We were all very stuffed from all the food we ate, and found everything to be stellar.  But we decided to concede and order dessert to share as well.  My mother wanted tiramisu - she always orders tiramisu at Italian restaurants - but my dad over ruled and convinced her to order a cup of coffee instead so that we could try something different.  My dad had his eye on the Savarin di Pistacchio - a pistachio cake with fresh citrus, medjool dates, and crème fraiche sorbetto.  The idea was stronger than the execution, as I found the cake to be overcooked and dry.  The sorbetto was rich and lovely with the fresh fruit though.  Keith picked the Peanut Butter Caramellata - a peanut butter mousse with chocolate ganache, peanut brittle, and chocolate gelato.  The peanut butter mousse was delicate and delightful with the chocolate pairing.  We much preferred this dessert to the first.

All in all, we had a great meal at Osteria Morini.  The service was approachable and timed well, and the ambience was jovial and warm with great views of the water front.  The food showcased Italian specialties and ingredients that are top notch, and I welcome this great addition to the neighborhood.

Total Rating: 4.63
Food: 5, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 4.5, Accessibility: 4.5
What Micky Eats...

What I ate:
Battilardo di Affettati y Formaggi
prosciutto di Parma 18 month, sopressata (spicy cured pork sausage),
taleggio (semi-soft cow's milk cheese)

Capesante
scallops, lentils, lardo, salsa verde

Spaghetti
shrimp, arugula pesto, fennel, pine nuts

Bucatini
crab, sea urchin, basil

Savarin di Pistacchio
pistachio cake, fresh citrus, medjool dates, crème fraiche sorbetto

Peanut Butter Caramellata
peanut butter mousse, ganache, peanut brittle, chocolate gelato

Plus Keith ate:
Polpettine
prosciutto & mortadella meatballs, pomodoro

Stracotto
Sangiovese-braised short ribs, whipped potatoes, gremolata


Osteria Morini Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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