Osteria Morini - short review (meatballs!)
Went there for the first time, for lunch. The place is pleasantly outfitted in a faux rustic manner, similar to Morandi, and there are numerous seating options including a long bar or a main room ringed with 2-tops, with communal tables in the center.
The mixed salad, served in a deep bowl, was elementally good: numerous lettuces, cucumbers, shaved carrots, fennel, in a light but zesty dressing.
The bread basket offers two options: slices of generic and tasteless peasant white, or a warm and wonderful olive mini roll (which they also serve at sister restaurant Marea), and which begs to be slathered in butter.
A signature appetizer of meatballs -- made of pancetta and mortadella -- in a thick rich tomato sauce, are soft and meaty and deeply flavorful: for crying out loud, they're made of pancetta and mortadella!! The best in the city at the moment. Great.
Roasted brussel sprouts and pancetta, all heavily carmelized, has become a ubiquitous side dish, but was done pretty much perfectly.
Wines by the glass were, typically for upscale NY restaurants, a lot of dollars for a little pour.
The biggest -- and only -- bummer was fettucine-like pasta with mixed meat ragu. Unfortunately, the chef either doesn't trust his ability to create a meat sauce that can stand on its own, or doesn't trust his customers to discern and appreciate an honest ragu, because this dish -- about which the waiter raved -- tasted mostly of butter: layer upon layer of rich butter, with undertones of meat. Unsophisticated diners may rave about the "richness" of the dish, but how uncreative and cynical it is to produce an artificially rich dish by adding scads of fat, rather than trusting the main ingredients.
Affogato -- good, but isn't the espresso shot supposed to be poured in hot, thereby creating a brief, but exciting contrast of hot and cold, solid and liquid, creamy and bitter?
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