Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Osteria Morini Food Review

Porchetta Panini with Tortellini in Brodo

Who knew you could find soup and a sandwich inside of an Italian oasis? Perhaps oasis is a tad too floral generous; but there's no denying Osteria Morini is beautiful to look at. They serve a mean $19 one-course lunch as well (the aforementioned soup & sandwich) with friendly, attentive service to boot. Mangiamo!

I stopped by for a late lunch (2 PM counts as such, near the Navy Yard) and discovered a festive atmosphere inside. It was actually pretty loud (almost club-esque) despite being less than a third full. Not in a bad way mind you, just not what I expected. Looks scream upscale with a dash of comfortable tossed in for good measure. The host seemed to have an attitude, and he sat me near the front of house at my request. No pleasantries, not even a half-hearted smile. Luckily I didn't have to deal with him anymore, as super barkeep Theresa took care of me from there on out.

Theresa is the kind of person you want to take care of you. She's energetic, friendly and unobtrusive. She took my order for Morini's $19 one-course lunch special (my choice of panini with a side of tortellini in brodo or insalata indiva) and a Coke (three bucks.) I opted for the Porchetta Panini (spit roasted pork loin, emmentaler, shaved fennel, minus the cheese ) and the Tortellini in Brodo: You didn't think I was going to pick the salad, did you?

You certainly can't beat the view... so much so I didn't even mind sitting at a tall table. At least it's away from the aforementioned noisy main dining area. My initial Shazam test failed; but I was still able to enjoy "I'll Be Around" by The Spinners... appropriate tuneage for the middle of the day. One could argue that the rest of the diners were simply having a grand time; but I wouldn't want to measure the noise level when this joint is packed. Getting old, I suppose.

Everything arrived at once (hence the one-course) and it certainly looked appetizing. The house made potato chips are Heavenly... crisp, not-at-all salty and delizioso. The soup was terrific as well, served in a comforting terra cotta-colored container. The pasta was incredibly tender, with finely ground mortadella tucked inside. The soup (parmigiano broth) was rich and creamy, and beautiful in color. It even sported a hint of nutmeg for a tiny kick throughout.

The sandwich was absolutely gooey and scrumptious, albeit simple in appearance. So gooey in fact, I (wrongfully) assumed it still had the emmentaler cheese inside. I asked Theresa to check; and within a minute or two, the manager came by and assured me there was none. He had checked with the chef personally. Kudos for putting my mind at ease. If I could duplicate the sheer awesomeness of this sandwich at home, I might never eat out again (OK, that's extreme... but you get the idea.) For the record, shaved fennel should find its way inside a lot more sammies, and Morini's roasted pork carries just the right amount of fat. Further kudos to the kitchen.

The manager checked in on me again, as did Theresa (twice.) Take away the host (who chose to ignore me, as I walked out... at least he's consistent) and you couldn't ask for more. Yes, it's a wee-bit pricey; but I can't wait to come back for a proper dinner and an Agrumi (ricotta cheesecake with creme fraiche.) Odds are, it's gonna be delizioso.