I've read a lot about Morandi, and a few weeks back while exploring the Village (in search of a random artist on the street - long story), I walked past it (it is very near Central Kitchen), which inspired me to give it a try.
Morandi is a rustic Italian trattoria from restaurateur Keith McNally. Executive Chef Jody Williams creates regional dishes from Italy such as Pici al limone and Pizzoccheri al forno. In warmer months, Morandi welcomes guests at its sidewalk café.
V and I made reservations for dinner, but then I got sick and we bumped our plans back a few days to a Sunday brunch. We made our way downtown after church and as we walked to the restaurant we realized that the Gay Pride parade was about to begin. It definitely would have been an interesting meal with a parade marching by, but it turned out that the restaurant was a few blocks from the parade route.
Morandi goes a long way toward creating an authentic atmosphere for their restaurant, from the phone message with a nice Italian accent, to "WC" on the bathroom doors, shelves lined with wine jugs in the dining room, exposed beams along the ceiling, and artisan breads stacked near the kitchen, it all evokes the "rustic Italian trattoria" they're going for. Eating outside with views of New York city and lots of parade participants and spectators decked out in various attire walking by during our meal took away from the atmosphere a bit, but it was still quite nice. It definitely made for good people watching. Where else but New York city can you see drag queens and get authentic Italian at the same time?
The brunch menu had some interesting choices. We started with Cestino di pane, a selection of sweet breads including ricotta fritters, sugar donuts, Italian croissants, anise donuts, grape focaccia and sweet bread. We got little pieces of each of the breads and it was nice to try them all, though my favorite was the ricotta fritters. Our server told us they'd be served warm, but they came out room temperature.
I tried the Fagottini con prosciutto, a baked crepe with ham and fontina. It was very good with great ham and cheese tastes complimented by a soft crepe that was nicely crispy and buttery around the edges. I was very satisfied. V had Trofiette al pesto, a pasta with pesto, potatoes and green beans. I thought it would be odd to have potato in a pasta dish, and I wondered how it would be served. It was much different than we expected, the beans and the potato were mixed into the pasta itself, with he potato julienned into thin strips that fit well with the texture of the pasta. The pesto sauce was very good and gave the dish a nice green color.
After our meal, I was definitely satisfied, though I wanted more - not because I wasn't full, but because I felt like I didn't get the whole Morandi experience. Next time, I'll go for dinner, and I'll sit inside to really soak it all in. Overall it's pretty reasonably priced, with good service and a great atmosphere.