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Morello Bistro Greenwich review

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I was told what a wonderful job the MARC group did changing the old Gaia space. Well, I was ready for this huge change when I walked through the door. After living all but 15 years of my life in the area I found it hard to believe that this space that has been the home of many different establishments over the years could really change its interior. And I was right. Yes they moved the bar and yes the chairs and booths had all been reupholstered but the space is the same. Not a bad thing but it's very hard to change it all that much.

The food on the other hand is much more exciting. It's early and there are some misses but I will have to hand it to them, our dinner last night was superb! I will start with the lone disappointment. One the menu was an intriguing take on what I thought was frisée with lardons salad. It was described as sautéed trumpet mushrooms w/parsley and I can't remember the other ingredient. It was just that. A small, and I mean SMALL amount of nicely cooked trumpet. And they were covered w/a poached egg. Sometimes simplicity works in a dish like this...problem is you need more than a couple of slivers of trumpet mushrooms to make it work. Nothing bad just needs more.

The Hamachi with simply dressed field greens was very good. I will not give this dish an excellent rating simply for the amount of fish. Although nowhere near as bad as the trumpet mushrooms I feel they could have added another piece or 2 to make this an excellent appetizer. Very refreshing and the dressing in no way masked the flavor of the Hamachi.

My friend had the seared sea scallops. From all indications they were great. They looked like the were cooked perfectly and my friend was VERY happy.

On to the pastas. In 1 word...EXTRAORDINARY!!! I had the pasta shaped like Casarecce (they called it something else, can't remember) w/a bolognese sauce. In a nut shell...OMG!!! I love a good bolognese and this, quite simply, was better than any I have had, including Italy. My companion had a gnocchi that were impossibly light while the mushroom pancetta sauce was a perfect compliment of earthy surreal delight. The bolognese was so good that we decided to share another.

The final entrée that I ordered was the cod. My lone criticism of this dish was that itself...the dish that the cod was served. It came in a big black cast iron dish that was more suitable for a steak. The cod itself was perfectly cooked (although I would have preferred the skin to be more crispy. And it may have well been but when we ordered the extra pasta bolognese they may have held the cod until the pasta was ready. No proof of that just a feeling.). There were a handful (4-6) little neck clams with the slight amount of cream sauce, very slight. Would rank this dish as very good to excellent.

And lastly, I hope Morello makes it. There are varying estimates on what they pay in rent ranging from a person I know saying "he knows" they pay $24,000 a month to a post on CH stating that they pay $38,000. How on earth can a restaurant survive in a contracting economy paying either amount???

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  1. Thanks for the review LVI - what were the prices for the apps and entrees?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Scotty100

      Hamachi was $15
      Scallops $14
      App size of Bolognese was $14
      Cod was $19
      Mushrooms $12
      Main Course of Gnocchi was $19

      I forgot to mention the desserts. They were as good as the apps and mains. Poached Pear was unlike any I have ever had poached in a spiced Barolo sauce. The Panna cotta was better than any I have ever had, not even close! The Tiramisu was the weak link. Not bad at all just too much mascarpone IMO but still delicious!

      1. re: LVI

        Wow, thsoe prices seem low for this sort of place on Greenwich Avenue

        1. re: LVI

          LVI

          Great review and thanks for the prices. When jfood was reading your revive he had each dish pegged higher but with the size it appears it is almost a small plates restaurant. Do you remember how many scallops were on the dish, this is usually a clue and for $14 it was probably 2-3.

          Thanks again.

          1. re: jfood

            Was 2 very large sea (obv) scallops.

            1. re: LVI

              were the mains small plates, like jfood said? that makes the $19 for a main seem less of a value. How large was the cod dish?

              1. re: adamclyde

                Pasta dishes come in whole and 1/2 portions. The 1/2 portions are fairly generous but by no means enough for a dinner (at least for me that is). My wife could easily have an appetizer and 1/2 pasta and be perfectly content. The cod was a very generous portion. I would certainly not say they are trying to follow the small plate trend thing. Please do not miss the desserts (panna cotta and poached pears)! They were expensive from what I remember ($9ish I think) but they were mind numbingly delicious! And they are big enough to share too.

      2. Went to dinner last night, have to agree, food was very good. Sat at the bar and split the baked clams, thanks for the recom, arugala salad and hamachi (there were about 5 or 6 nice slices). Then we shared 1/2 orders (which were very nice sized) of the gnocchi, which I agree are excellent and the pasta w/artichokes, chick peas and speck, this could have used a little more sauce, but was very nicely flavored.

        I'll be back just for the baked clams and gnocchi, I find there's a lot of bad gnocchi out there, so when you find good ones, it's a nice surprise.

        1. Did they change the bar at all? When it was the Dome, the bar was much bigger. Rent is probably higher. You can't touch a place like that for less than $100/sq.ft Trying to size up the place in my head. It's been a while. But it's probably close to $40k.

          1 Reply
          1. re: billyparsons

            I had dinner there last week. I would go back in a heartbeat. Food was very good, wine list outstanding, with a lot of different choices.

            The one problem....the place was empty. Yes, it was a Tuesday night, but during the xmas season on Greenwich Ave I would think it would be hopping.

            You have to sell an awful lot of pasta to pay that rent!! I hope they do well. It is nice to see a place on the Ave. that serves quality product for a reasonable price.

          2. Three of us went to brunch today. The food and service was excellent, but there was a very loud table upstairs of about 9 people.

            We complained about the noise several times, as did others apparently. When we left, my husband said that we tried to enjoy our meal, but it was difficult to talk to each other due to the noise. The staff told us that they had many complaints about this particular party, but they were regulars, and came at least three times a month.

            So, my suggestion would be that when you decide to go, call and ask if the regular loud table of 8 or more is going to be there at that time, and schedule around it.

            Seriously, these people were way out of control. We sat far away from them and could hear their entire conversation.

            1. Definite ADD TO THE ROTATION.

              On a frigid Friday nite, the place was packed and lively, a mixed age crowd, not just the older Greenwich see and be seeners. Tho there was a lot of seeing and being seen.

              The list of items on the menu and the specials were not extensive, which I take as a plus... the focus is usually sharper and probably not as many pre-preps. Price points were reasonalbe .. at least for Greenwich.

              Going on previous CH recks, we ordered two pasta apps: the tasty bolognese, and the sublime gnocchi with a wild mushroom and pancetta sauce that was simply unforgettable. We'll be back to try the other pastas, tho I will be tempted to return to the gnocchi... it simply won't leave my mind.

              Secondi: osso bucho and a pork chop wrapped in a speck like bacon. Alas the OB was the weak link in an otherwise great dinner -- only half was melt in your mouth and served without a marrow utinsle, tho we asked for it twice. The pork was fantastic, maybe the juciest and tastiest I've ever eaten. Both portions were ample.

              For desert, a molten hazelnut cake and icecream that was superb ... and a panna cotta that was excellent, tho I have had better.

              It's a great space and good value. The setting is wonderful and warm, the plating marvelous, and the service amiable without any attitude (cf. Polpo). We made a day-of reservation for two on OpenTable and were seated immediately at a corner by the window on the upper level with soft, but dramatic lighting, under an Old World Ratskellar ceiling (ala Oyster Bar in GC).

              Only complaints: 13 dollar small serve martini, no prepandial bread, and zone coverage by the waitstaff.

              Like MTM, Bistro Morello may make it after all -- in a location that has been a graveyard. Just hope that popularity and headier times won't increase what is a good value, convivial atmosphere, and easy reservation.

              2 Replies
              1. re: louuuuu

                FYI, in my recollection, the architecture, at least the ceiling, was done by the same firm that did the Oyster Bar - this is many many years ago when the space was orginally a bank I think.

                1. re: rjka

                  It actually reminded me of the tiled ceiling at the venerable and vast Ratskellar in the Student Union at U of Wisconsin in Madison, where I spent many many many hours sipping coffee and cramming.

                  There, like the one at Grand Central, you can whisper at one corner of the room and hear it at the caddy korner other. Many secrets have been betrayed by that ceiling!

                  Such was not the case at Morello, which is hardly a sanctorum for whispers.