Though Locanda Verde and Maialino may be the new stars on the Italian breakfast scene, Morandi still shines bright. The scene is classic Keith McNally: crowded with beautiful people, and, it would seem, familiar faces (as I'm still not immune to the fun of star-sightings, I happily noted that Gretchen Mol and Mario Batali were both there when we visited); and the food, almost in spite of the slightly costumey rustic Italian setting, is quite good.
Moreover, it's a deal at weekday breakfast, when the same items you find on the brunch menu are discounted by as much as 40%.
A bread basket, with olive oil and salt, will arrive at the table, but it's still worthwhile to consider the Cestino di Pane (basket of sweet breads, $11). We decided to chose just a few items from the basket: Frittelle di ricotta (ricotta fritters) and Mazaresi (pistachio sweet bread). The fritters were, in my companion's words, "heaven." Warm and spongy on the inside with a cinnamon and sugar crust, the fritters come three to a plate and break open to reveal pine nuts and currants in the dough. I would happily make due with a few plates of these and a cappuccino—though why stop there?
The pistachio sweet bread (pictured at top) had a mild, but true pistachio flavor (probably enhanced with a little almond extract), and a dense, pound-cake-like consistency. The slices, two petite wedges, have a lightly sugared crust.
Uova in camicia ($12) is a dish of perfectly poached eggs over artichokes, spinach, and mushrooms. The ingredients blend together nicely, if to the point that they're a bit indistinguishable; a pinch of salt and some bread from the basket helped us enjoy the dish more.
Of the three crespelle options (crepes), we sampled the Fazzoletti di ricotta ($13). My eyes widened as soon as the dish was set in front of me: the smell of the lemon was intoxicating. Fragrant lemon zest and powdered sugar had been liberally dusted over two slightly crispy, stuffed crepes. I wish there had been more of the fragrant lemon inside with the ricotta filling, as the aroma was more intense than the flavor, but it was delicious—reminiscent of the Italian shell-shaped pastry, sfogliatelle.
Along with lighter options, like granola or yogurt, you could choose the the Tagliata di manzo con uova a piacere ($17), a grilled skirt steak with two eggs--a good choice if you're very hungry and in the mood for a large portion of tender, medium rare steak.
And of course you can't go wrong with the Pizza "occhio di bue"($12), which we previously reviewed (and raved about): an excellent breakfast pizza grilled with a sunny-side egg, pancetta, and pecorino.
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