Gimme Morini

Michael White hits the Upper East Side in a big, luxe way
Executive chef Gordon Finn (right) and a pasta cook plating at Ristorante Morini
Chefs Saucing at Ristorante Morini Upper East Side

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

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Ristorante Morini 1167 Madison Ave. New York NY 10028 212-965-8777


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