It is no secret that the food of Emiglia Romagna is some of the best in the world. It is a secret however, that the best time to sample some is lunchtime in New York City at Osteria Morini. Morini is a relative newcomer to the Soho/Noho neighborhood, opening just seven months ago, but bound to be here for the long run and to become, like the food it represents, a classic.
I am freelance, and on the very, and I mean VERY, rare occaision that I finish early, I like to have lunch somewhere out. It feels very civilized and mildly European to sit and have a glass of wine in the middle of the day. It's kind of satsifying, like playing hookey.
Yesterday, as luck would have it, I finished early. So I snuck off to Osteria Morini with my friend Meredith for just one of these lunches. I have been to Morini at night and it is quite crowded and hard to get a table. We walked right in at 2pm and although there were many open tables we decided to sit at the bar and have an appetizer or two.
We sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine. We are both of similiar minds in our wine preference. We were looking for something a little earthy, smokey and dirty. We found our perfect wine in a Chianti Ruffina, a biodynamic wine with black forest fruits fine chalky tannins and a little earth.
We shared some mortadella and proccuito polpettine, made with pork and veal and served in a little bowl of tomato sauce. They were so tasy! It brought me right back to my grandmothers house and that smell of sauce that I think has permanently altered my DNA. That particular smell and taste is home to to me. It conjures up my Nonna in her house dress, her transluscent skinned hand waving that spoon full of sauce in front of me, as I am allowed one little taste, but what a perfect taste it always was. My grandmother was very funny because she could never just sample the pasta to see if it was done, she always had to take a little pasta put a pinch of sauce add one meatball and a little bit of pecorino and taste it all together... this is what Morini's polpettine reminded me of, home.
We then shared a porchetta sandwich of thinly sliced roasted pork with with balsamic pickled onions a salsa verde, arugula and a lardo pesto. It was the perfect amount of food for a midday lunch on rainy spring day.
I have to add that after going the other day...I became obsessed with those meatballs. I had a lunch plan this week with a friend and her daughter. I suggested Morini. Initially she was worried that it might be too crowded or fancy for a toddler as her daughter is just two and a half, but I assured her that it would be fine. We discovered not only is Morini a great secret spot for lunch, but that it is also really kid friendly! The staff was super nice, they had a booster seat and there were plenty of things for her to eat. She chose a proscuitto and cheese panini and some mozzarella with rosemary olive oil and grapes... we shared the homemade tagliatelle with ragu antica and then finished it off with a panna cotta (served in a little mason jar) with bitter orange marmalade and salty pistachios.