Ristorante Morini
 

Adeline Ramos

 

The perfect place to grab a sit-down lunch before hitting The Met

By Erik Mathes

It’s not every day you find a reason to venture to the UES (unless, of course, you call it home), but it’s one of the best parts of the city to explore. So here’s an idea to really make the trek worth your while: Grab one of the best gourmet lunches (or brunches) in the city at Ristorante Morini, and follow it with a visit to NYC’s art and culture mecca, The Met. There’s no better one-two combo for food and fun in the neighborhood.

For a restaurant that’s part of chef Michael White’s internationally renowned Altamarea Group—stacked with Michelin-starred standouts Ai Fiori and Vaucluse—Morini offers similarly superior cuisine at a price New Yorkers won’t flinch at. Sure, you can order a la carte, but why would you when the lunch specials give you an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for only $40—or a salad, pasta, and gelato for just $34. When you see how much each dish goes for individually, you’ll see that’s some serious savings, and there are plenty of enticing options to pull from when crafting your perfect order.

The kale salad is light and refreshing, with slices of green apples and watermelon radish, ricotta salata, candied almond slices, and lemon vinaigrette. Then there’s the umami-rich Romana, with baby romaine and endive tossed with parmigiano and black pepper-anchovy vinaigrette, and a seasonal burrata currently served with eggplant caponata, crostini, and agrodolce. You can even throw down for a salad featuring chilled lobster tail, shaved asparagus, and citrus vinaigrette.
If you’re craving something hot, snag yourself some bocconcini, aka tomato-braised meatballs made with chicken sausage and eggplant, topped with melted mozzarella di bufala and fresh basil. Served in perfectly balanced sweet and savory pomodoro sauce, this is the dish to save a piece of house-made rosemary focaccia for dipping. Also reserve some of that otherworldly bread for the tagliatelle, also made in house, featuring classic ragù Bolognese.

If you decide to take the entree route, there’s roasted chicken, grilled hanger steak, and pan-seared salmon, along with a gourmet burger featuring Pat LaFrieda prime dry-aged beef, bacon, fontina, and pepperoncini. Or perhaps you’ll be enamored by the Milanese, a crispy veal cutlet topped with caper-studded mushroom crema, crispy prosciutto, sage, and an arugula salad with aged balsamic, or the grilled sea bass with carrot purée, marble potatoes, and kalamata olives.

Close out your meal with some lemon and pistachio panna cotta with blood orange gel and grapefruit campari sorbet, or a bowl of fresh-fried Italian vanilla sugar donuts known as bomboloni, served with seasonal jam and vanilla anglaise, and you’ll be ready to spend hours walking it off while marveling at The Met’s illustrious collections.

hours

Dinner: Mon–Sat 5:30 PM–10 PM; Sun 5:30 PM–9:30 PM
Lunch: Mon–Fri noon–2:30 PM
Brunch: Sat–Sun 11:30 AM–2:30 PM

price range

$23 (White Label burger) to $31 (grilled sea bass)
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