Gimme Morini

Michael White hits the Upper East Side in a big, luxe way

Ristorante. It just sounds fancier.

Michael White's new Upper East Side duplex venture, Ristorante Morini, is a tiny bit like Osteria Morini, its Soho sibling, but here the rustic simplicity has been swapped for swank wood paneling, billowing chandeliers and Italian leather chairs.

The food gets a similar upgrade. No more platters of salumi and spit-roasted porchetta. Here the dishes are beautifully composed and tend toward indulgently luxurious ingredients; an entire section of the menu is devoted to caviar.

Sparklingly fresh pieces of amberjack crudo ($22) are joined by a few quenelles of sturgeon caviar and pristine baby artichokes. A dish that combines Marsala-braised snails ($23) with black truffle and a half-moon of puff pastry is all earthy, buttery richness.

Handmade agnolotti ($27) filled with beef shank are reminiscent of White's homier dishes, but the celery root and a red wine reduction elevate it above standard red-sauce fare. And a pine nut tart ($14) was a surprise charmer, its chewy (in a good way) filling given a shot of sweetness by honey-ricotta gelato.

"It's still very much a neighborhood restaurant," White tells us of his seventh NYC location. And he's right. The service is unpretentious. The room is comfortable despite its outright elegance. It's a neighborhood local well suited to its neighborhood.

"It's like a restaurant you would find in Milan," White says, which sounds about right.

Lumache: Marsala-braised snails with porcini mushrooms and black truffles

Crudo of sliced amberjack strewn with artichokes and wild oregano (left) and executive chef Gordon Finn shaving truffles

Pine tart, topped with rosemary meringue and honey-ricotta gelato