Brunch at Morandi

Weekend holidays tend to disorient me for the rest of the week, and Easter Sunday was no different. So this post is going to be short and to the point, because I also can’t let another day go by without describing the fantastic brunch I had at Morandi in the West Village a few weeks ago with my dear friend Cheryl.

When Morandi first opened in 2007, it received pretty mediocre reviews, a first for the Keith McNally empire that includes favorites such as Balthazar, Pastis, and Minetta Tavern. But before anyone could try a second plate of spaghetti at this stylishly rustic Italian restaurant, chef Jody Williams was fired and Tony Liu took her place. Now, since I hadn’t eaten at Morandi until a few weeks ago, I can’t talk about whether it’s better or worse than before. All I can say is that Cheryl and I had the best brunch ever when we ate there.

Of course we started with the carciofi alla giudea, or fried artichokes ($12). Lightly dressed with lemon juice, they were light and crisp, the delicate leaves protecting the soft center choke. They were also surprisingly un-greasy for a fried dish, and Cheryl and I ate them all in just a few minutes.

Everything on the menu from the egg-based dishes to the salads sounded amazing, and it took me forever to choose my main dish. I finally went with the fazzoletti di ricotta, warm buttery crepes filled with lemon ricotta and topped with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries ($13). Think of them as the Italian equivalent of the much-loved blintz. The crepes were thick and doughy, the lemon ricotta light and airy. Combined with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh fruit, this was the perfect breakfast dish.

Cheryl had an equally difficult time choosing her meal, but finally went with the classic spaghetti carbonara ($15). Morandi’s was one of the best versions of this dish I have ever tasted. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and the egg was just slightly cooked from its heat. Small chunks of pancetta hid between the egg-coated spaghetti strands, but believe me, none went to waste. Did I mention yet that Cheryl let me eat the last bite? If that doesn’t prove our friendship, nothing does.

We considered ending our feast after our main dishes, but then quickly requested the dessert menu. The crespelle di cioccolato, or chocolate crepes, could not be denied ($9). Topped with chestnut gelato and a sweet citrus-based sauce, they were delicate and decadent at the same time. As Cheryl and I lingered over our coffees, we saw so many dishes pass by our table that we wanted to try; we almost ordered a second meal then and there. But the tempting focaccia “occhio di bue” (cracker-thin focaccia topped with a sunny-side egg, pancetta, and pecorino, served on a gorgeous wood serving tray) will just have to wait until another visit—which will be sooner rather than later. We’re already looking forward to our next shot at the best brunch ever.

Morandi, 211 Waverly Place at 7th Avenue in the West Village, Manhattan. T: 212-627-7575

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7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Cheryl said,

    This was all dead-on! We ate a lot, I was so proud of us. Can we go back soon????

  2. 3

    Aki said,

    Ooo. Fried artichokes! That’s what I am gonna have on this Sunday definitely!
    Harry and I love eating at there, except one mistake we made…

    http://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/peculiarplanet/diary/200911160000/
    (It’s in Japanese but you can tell from the pic.)

    We didn’t know what is “mortadella steak” and it was just huuuuuuuuuge. ;)

  3. 5

    Nicole said,

    My mouth is watering just reading this…. must try it when I’m in town!

    • 6

      Christina said,

      I actually thought about you and your mom while I was writing this; I know how much your mom loves Balthazar! We should all meet up at Morandi the next time you are in town. Thanks for your comments, I always enjoy them!

  4. 7

    Italians love discovering new foods and new way of preparing familiar dishes. Every year there’s more and more interest in the traditional cuisine of the various regions and in biological, environment friendly foods. Italian food for Italians is a reason of pride. You can recognize Italians abroad for their longing of typical dishes, pasta over every other. And you can see how dishearten they are when they try pasta outside Italy. Some upper class foreign restaurants have managed to master almost all the typical Italian dishes, but pasta still eludes them.


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