OSTERIA MORINI: the underrated brunch

Osteria Morini

Dear Food Diary:
Brunch is big in New York City and getting a table for 6 is never an easy job, specially on a last minute notice. My favorite places were all booked up this past Saturday so I turned to Michael White’s Osteria Morini in Soho (after all, he was behind my favorite meal in 2010 – Marea). To my surprise, the place was empty at 11:30 am, by the time we left around 1:30 pm, it got full but not crowded. After our great Italian home-style family brunch, I was convinced, this is one of the underrated brunch spots in this city.

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Unlike Marea, this is very casual and warm. Think homey like an Italian nonna’s kitchen but magnified. Family style portions were perfect for sharing. Service was friendly.

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If you’re into bloody mary this might be the place. The Gallo E Bullo had an interesting chicken stock base and pickled egg, quite potent. Awesome fix for a hangover. Our friend W liked it so much, he’s returning for more. I’m not a savory drink person so the Pear Spumante was perfect. A little bubbly to start our meal.

We started off by sharing CONTORNI (sides) and CALDI (hot) ANTIPASTI:

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PANCETTA – grilled fresh pork belly, rosemary salt
There’s no better reason to be up so early on a Saturday than for the love of pork belly.  Because this is fresh, it wasn’t overly salty. A little chard crust on the outside, so irresistable. The lace of lean and fatty in my mouth was a flavor explosion. The aroma of the rosemary just took it up a notch. We finished one portion and unanimously agreed to order another.

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POLENTA – parmigiano fonduta
Ultra luscious and creamy polenta folded with salty cheese. Ohhh so warm, velvety and soulful. The crunchy bits of cheese were a great addition.

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POLPETTINE – prosciutto & mortadella meatballs baked in tomato sauce
This would totally give The Meatball Shop a run for its money. The salty/sweetness from the prosciutto and those fatty spots the mortadella has, makes this an ultra moist ball of meaty goodness. The slight acidity and sweet tomato sauce tie it together beautifully. This was like a big hug on a plate. I felt warm and happy inside and out. Ohhh, the power of comfort food.

INSALATA (salad):

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PORCHETTA – carpaccio of roast pork rosemary, lemon and greens
Roast pork salad sounds like an oxymoron but who cares!? The thin pieces of tender pork and the greens were brightened by lemon peels. Crunchy golden pig skin instead of croutons, more please! If salads are built this way, I would eat salad everyday.

: You can’t go to a Michael White restaurant and not try his pastas…

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CAPPELLETTI – truffled ricotta ravioli, melted butter, prosciutto
A puffy cloud of luxurious truffled ricotta oozing out, so creamy and melt in your mouth. That addicting fragrance from the diamond of the kitchen” lingers bite after bite. Al dente pasta on the exterior. There’s a tad bit of sweetness that is nicely set off by the salt in the prosciutto. And all that butter to cover it from every angle. Hands down our favorite pasta dish, actually even the overall dish of our meal.

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TAGLIATELLE – thin ribbon pasta, ragu all’ antica
The most familiar of them all. Simple but done right. The sauce was meaty and flavorful. Very satisfying.

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TORTELLINI ZINGARA- traditional meat filled pasta, asparagus, peas, red pepper and cream
Was my least favorite. Maybe because it reminded me of a tiny wonton only without the soup. The filling was a bit dry.

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Overall, I really enjoyed our brunch. Specially for days where I want more than just eggs, even though they have a good selection of egg dishes on the menu as well. I’ll have to try them another weekend.

P.S. Chubby’s Rating:chubby rating 4
218 Lafayette Street 
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