Osteria Morini

An Italian lunch that eclipses dinnertime—as it should

By Erik Mathes

If you’re looking for a lightning-quick lunch, Osteria Morini is a dangerous place. Not that you won’t get your food fast; you’ll just want to linger long enough to savor every last bite. It makes sense once you find out that Michael White is behind it, the chef who helped Marea score two Michelin stars, three stars from The New York Times, and a Best New Restaurant Award from the James Beard Foundation, not to mention snagging a Michelin star at Ai Fiori, because why not? With partner Ahmass Fakahany, White had pieces of a 17th century Italian farmhouse shipped from overseas to create an ambiance that paid rightful homage to the restaurant’s inspiration destination, Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy.

To mitigate the surefire dilemma of a menu where every option is worth trying, Morini offers a two-course lunch that lets you pair an appetizer or salad with a panini or pasta dish for just $29. That way, you can taste a couple of intriguing items each time you go—and you’re going to want to eat here a lot.

In a city with too many Italian restaurants, Osteria Morini manages to make meatballs magical again, mixing mortadella and prosciutto with pork shoulder for the most flavorful grind this side of Sicily. There’s also tortellini with a savory pork and cheese filling, seasonal burrata with Brussels sprouts, pancetta, squash, and saba, a salumi and cheese board, an outrageous duck liver mousse with passito gelee and sea salt, and an Adriatic-style seafood salad with olives, capers, celery, and lemon.
Once you figure out your first course, it’s time to decide between the sandwiches and pastas—all worthy contenders. The panino alla porchetta features thinly sliced, Tuscan-style spit-roasted Hampshire pork topped with garlicky, sauteed broccoli rabe and salsa verde, while the spectacular panino alla Petroniana is piled with prosciutto cotto, veal cutlet, truffle cream, Parmigiano, and spinach.

If you’re feeling pasta, there are a variety of options, all made in house. There’s ricotta gnocchi with short rib ragù, tagliatelle with Bolognese ragù, torcia made with squid ink and topped with shrimp and seppia ragù, and fusilli with Neapolitan pork shoulder ragù and creamy robiolina cheese. Of course, the chef’s signature dish is the most popular of all, a truffled ricotta ravioli called cappelletti topped with prosciutto and drizzled with butter—the epitome of simple sophistication.

Afterward, pretend you’re in Italy and linger for a while over some cappuccino and tiramisu, and start thinking about what you’re going to order the next time you give into your imminent craving for the marvelous Morini lunch.

hours

Dinner: Mon 5 PM–11 PM; Tue–Thu 5 PM–10:30 PM; Fri–Sat 5 PM–11:30 PM; Sun 5 PM–10 PM
Lunch: Mon–Fri noon–3:30 PM
Brunch: Sat–Sun 11:30 AM–3:30 PM

price range

$16 (mozzarella panino) to $24 (hanger steak)
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