Perfectly poached shrimp, sweet scallops, and surprisingly tender squid and octopus, this is about as good as seafood salads get. We appreciated the brininess and crispness that the olives and celery respectively brought to the table.
Porchetta is not generally thought of as an especially light meat, but in the expert hands of Michael White, it becomes ethereal. It's served with a bright salad of arugula, shaved fennel, and radishes and a simple lemon vinaigrette. Proof that oversimplifying is rarely a problem when it comes to ingredients this fantastic.
The porchetta is rolled in house and crisped up in a vertical rotisserie (they roast their potatoes in the drippings). The mildly seasoned, extraordinarily tender and moist meat roll is served hot and crisp at dinner, and sliced cold at lunch.
The tartare of beef is another example of a surprisingly feather-light dish. Bright with a sharp lemony kick, it virtually vaporized on the palate, though the truffle oil became overbearing after the first whiff. Next time we'll ask for it without.
Bread and Olive Oil
Every table comes with a cute clay jar of rich, fruity olive oil and a basket of excellent warm bread.
Chef White is not out to reinvent the wheel here, and the meatballs are a perfect example. As tender and light as you could hope for with a strong, savory cheese flavor. No complaints, though nothing made them particularly special.
They keep four different varieties of flour on hand with which they make various doughs depending on the final shape of the pasta. Stuffed pastas rely on high-gluten "OO" Italian flour, while straight pastas use more tender semolina.
Stuffed with a classic allspice and nutmeg-spiked veal and mortadella stuffing, the star here is the pasta. Rich and bright yellow with egg yolks, it retains a satisfying chewiness that's often missing from stuffed pastas. The duck liver cream sauce is assertive without being overtly livery. This was our favorite pasta course.
The gnocchi weren't bad per se, but they certainly had more bite to them than we were expecting. They did not seem like a poorly executed version of your typical lighter-than-air gnocchi, they were just unlike any gnocchi we've tasted. Either way, we weren't a fan of the overly sweet and simple Spaghetti-O's style pureed tomato sauce.
Like a high-end, refined version of American Chop Suey, and just as comforting. The gramigna (basically long elbow macaroni), like the tortellini, were perfectly textured: a distinctly chewy bite with no trace of raw flour flavor. The sauce was creamy and meaty but not overly deep or complex—then again, complexity is not really what comfort food is about.
Moist, flavorful, and perfectly cooked. A sprinkle of bread crumbs give it a nice textural contrast, though we would have preferred a bit more of the smokiness imparted by the grill.
If roast chicken is the true test of a kitchen, Osteria Morini passes. Extraordinarily crisp and juicy. Some of us found the skin and sauteed spinach to be a little salty. Bread-crumb covered roasted tomatoes were about as fine an example of this retro side dish as you could expect, which is to say, meh.
Mixed Grill for Two
It's an unabashed meat-fest, enough to serve three easily. Aside from salt, pepper, and a few herbs and spices here and there, nothing gets in the way of the meat, save for a squeeze of lemon. Here's what we had: Skirt steak (phenomenal), Lamb (undercooked/raw), homemade fennel sausage (perfect texture and flavor, though extraordinarily salty), and grilled pork belly (better-than-bacon).
Pork and Sweetbread Skewers
Two skewers with alternating slices of sweetbreads and tender grilled pork shoulder, these were the tastiest bites of meat of the meal.
Duroc Pig Shoulder
The skewered chunks of Hampshire pork shoulder were unapologetically medium rare—just warm enough to start melting their insanely-marbled interior. Wrapped in a bit of guanciale, they were melt-in-your-mouth tender and over the top porky.
The gelati were decidedly up and down. Rich chocolate, creamy pistachio, and an intensely flavored hazelnut-caramel were our favorites while the vanilla and crema fell somewhat short with a couple of noticeable ice shards.
Oddly named after the designer of the spiral staircase, all it is is one of the ubiquitous molten-center chocolate cakes, and a bog-standard one at that. It looked fudgy, but tasted mainly of flour, neither sweet, moist, nor chocolate-y enough.
Pannacotta has the tendency to become either gummy or greasy tasting when not made with care. This one was neither. Tender and light on the palate, it's nevertheless far too large for a single serving—order one to share.