Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Guest Post: The bro encounters pasta, Jake Gyllenhaal at Osteria Morini

Last week, the bro set out to celebrate the 28th birthday of his girlfriend, LM. From a list of five potentials, he selected Osteria Morini, one of the newest downtown hot spots. Chef Michael White’s small Italian restaurant on Lafayette Street has drawn the affection of New York diners and therefore required two weeks' advance notice to land a reservation. In a LWF&D first, I’ve risked my credibility on his guest post recounting the delicious, and at times amusing, experience-- take it away, Bro:

We showed up around 8:45 for a 9:00 Tuesday night reservation. We were told by the polite hostesses, “It will only be a few minutes.” The highlight of the night came in those few minutes, during which in strolled none other than Jake Gyllenhaal. While disappointingly unaccompanied by Taylor Swift, Jake was still ogled by all the women in the vicinity, including LM. And if a male might say this without his sexuality being questioned, deservedly so. [Editor's note: You can't. Consider your sexuality questioned.]

We were led to a small table towards the back corner of the restaurant. While the ambience was nice, with exposed brick, various and sundry wine bottles on shelves and a subtle musical backdrop of easy listening fluff, I did notice that the tables were a little close for comfort to one another. More on that later.

For the Batillardo di Affettati course (what this means I don’t know) I ordered the prosciutto, and some Taleggio (which I can’t pronounce) cheese. However little I understood of what I’d asked for--somehow the waitress’s description of “funky to the nose, but creamy to the taste” led me to actually ordering it--it somehow all came out right. The prosciutto was the best I’d ever tasted, and the cheese, while rank, did actually taste pretty good. The bread medley, sourdough and shortbread, offered the perfect mini-sandwich making opportunity. Italian sliders, if you will. We were off to a great start.

For the entrees, after a long selection process, I ordered the Tortelli Della Nonna and LM ordered the Tagliatelle. I thought we had an understood splitting arrangement. I was wrong. After one bite of my beef ravioli, LM made the “tequila shot” face, called off the trade, and I was left solo to my own entrĂ©e. Fortunately for me, I found it delectable and was all too happy not to share


I think there was tortelli in here at one point

The beginning of LM’s Tagliatelle also seemed to be going well. However, as the next table’s occupants were being seated, the woman in the party pulled off the rare “jacket zamboni” maneuver, sweeping 1/3 of our table’s contents onto LM’s lap. This was met with a very awkward five minutes of laughter and apologies from the woman, offers to buy rounds of drinks, and seemingly every worker in the place trying their hand at sweeping and mopping.

Amends made and tempers cooled, we pressed on with the rest of dinner. LM handled it well, the Tagliatelle was still good, and OM’s manager came over with what turned out to be complimentary drinks for us - a very classy move indeed.

The cuisine was capped by Torta for dessert. To OM’s credit, they took care of the birthday candle I’d asked for by phone earlier in the day [Editor's note: Awwww. Way to go, Bro!]. The Torta itself was a little rich for that point in the meal, but luckily we actually did split this course, so we were able to finish. For chocolate and peanut butter lovers, it certainly did the combo proud.

Mmmmm, Torta

If given the authority to anoint a number of spatulas upon OM, I award it 4 out of 5. The food is outstanding and relatively reasonably priced. One definitely feels “cool” dining there – thanks Jake! – and the staff is clearly still attentive to the everyman customer, as evidenced by their peace offering of free drinks and remembering the birthday candle. Underrated aspects of the dining experience – constant water refills, clean bathrooms, polite wait staff – are also executed well. The downside is their popularity has caused them to cram a few too many tables in there, leading to our unfortunate happenings, and the restaurant is a bit loud until you get used to it. But overall, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone that asked. I’d just tell them bring an extra change of clothes!

Oh, and by the way, Jake was not dining with anyone famous. Disappointing, I know.

Osteria Morini

218 Lafayette Street


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