If you’re looking for a restaurant on the upper east side of Manhattan or even just looking for a great restaurant in New York City that’s comfortable, yet elegant, and affordable but not cheap, Ristorante Morini is the place for you. This marvelous New York City restaurant is located at 1167 Madison Ave just south of 86 street in the borough of Manhattan. It is a neighborhood restaurant that caters to both locals and those visiting the Upper East Side. However, it’s not a tourist restaurant as most of the customers we were told either live or work locally. That’s a good thing, because it’s the places that thrive on the locals that must continue to deliver quality food and service consistently.
We love neighbourhood restaurants as they usually alway stand heads and tails above the typical tourist restaurants. The upper east side of Manhattan is a gold mine for great local restaurants or even diners like EJ’s Luncheonette and so many others.
Ristorante Morini is run by Chef and owner Michael White. Just based on the quality of the food, it is obvious Chef Michael White is at the top of his game. White also employs an impressive staff including Executive Chef Bill Dorrler, Pastry Chef Dominique Lombardo and Restaurant Manager Christina Caruana This is a place not to missed. Here’s why….
It is highly recommended to make reservations for a meal at Ristorante Moroni. However, they do accept walk ins if they have room. We can attest to that because we happened to be just walking by the restaurant and decided to “walk in.” We were greeted by a lovely hostess who asked if we had a reservation. As we replied “no,” she kept smiling and said,”hold on.” Usually, as we all have experienced before, when you say you don’t have a reservation, its goodbye. Surprisingly, the hostess came back and said “follow me.”
We were unaware that Ristorante Morini has two floors. The street level floor contains a handful of tables and a bar. There are also a few small little tables outside in front of the restaurant. The hostess led us to an elevator and said she would meet us upstairs. When we arrived on the next floor, the hostess was waiting for us as the elevator doors opened. We were brought to a beautiful table by a window overlooking Madison Avenue. The top floor of Ristorante Morini is lined with large windows so that all the seats facing the windows have a beautiful view of New York City. It’s not a landscape view or skyline view, but a view of Madison Avenue in New York City. This is a view that is a lot more interesting to look at than your typical shopping center views in suburbia.
We had arrived at Ristorante Morini at about 2 pm in the afternoon on Sunday. At that time, they were serving their Sunday brunch. However, while they were many fantastic brunch items on the menu, they still did offer some of their specialties they serve at normal lunch and dinner times. We decided to skip the brunch items and order the items they normally served at dinner.
I think we can all agree that one of the great joys of restaurant dining is the bread that is served before the start of the meal. The boring restaurants serve the typical warm Italian bread and butter. The more interesting restaurants will serve variations of bread with oil and herbs. Ristorante Morini served two incredibly delicious chocolate chip scones as a warm-up.
Ristorante Morini Chocolate Chip Scones
For their Sunday brunch meal, they had a $40 price fix menu. You did not have to choose from the price fix menu. However, when looking at the individual prices, the price fixed menu seemed like a pretty good deal. For $40, you would receive an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. The average entree price was around $23 to $27 the appetizers were around 15 to 20 and we had not even seen a dessert menu yet. So, both my wife and I went with the $40 price fix menu.
For an appetizer, my wife ordered the lobster salad. This was no typical lobster salad with just small pieces of fake lobster and mayonnaise. This was something extraordinarily different. Ristorante Morini lobster salad was filled with chunk pieces of lobster tail and the most incredible cherry tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. The greens were splendid and so was the dressing the salad was wrapped in. This is an appetizer you don’t want to miss.
Ristorante Morini Lobster Salad
For myself, I ordered a smoked salmon salad. There were small pieces of caviar drizzled on top of the smoked salmon surrounded with fresh bread and a sweet white sauce. If the meal ended right there I would have been happy. Doesn’t matter how great a chef you are, if the ingredients you are using are not fresh, none of it will matter. All the food served in these appetizers were as fresh as food can get.
Ristorante Morini Smoked Salmon Salad
Not only was the food great, the waiter was very attentive to our drinks. He also seemed to time the arrival of our entrees perfectly as we finished the appetizers. We were not rushed, but we also did not have to wait long for everything.t The waiter was so friendly and attentive, he seemed like he owned the place. That’s quality service!
My wife’s entree arrived on a plate perfectly designed for a very generous serving ofacquerello risotto, wild mushrooms, and porcini fonduta. All you really have to know about that is that it was mind-blowing. Ristorante Morini makes their own pasta. If you have ever experienced a restaurant that makes their own pasta you will understand how much better fresh pasta tastes than factory pasta. When you combine fresh pasta with a brilliant chef you unlock the Gates of Heaven.
Usually when I’m sitting in such a wonderful restaurant such as Ristorante Morini, I’m going to be very careful in what I order for my entree. The last thing I would ever think of ordering in such a wonderful restaurant like Ristorante Morini would be a hamburger. Nonetheless, a description of the burger on the menu was just too tempting. The menu described it as aLaFrieda 8oz. prime dry-aged patty, fontina, pepperoncini, bacon, tomato marmellata, and french fries. Oh yeah! When I asked the waiter if he would recommend it, he said I’m not sure if we have any left. Oh No!
A few minutes later, the waiter came back to the table and said “you’re in luck we have one left.” He said do you want it? I said “are you kidding, it’s the last one, now I want it even more.” When it arrived at my table the people sitting next to me all said “wow we can’t wait to see how you going to eat that.” Yes, it was one of those tall burgers held together down the middle by a tall thin stick. There was no way that I can hold this burger in my hand and take a bite. It could just not be done I have a big mouth, but not that big.
I removed the top bun and a few ingredients, cut up in small pieces and made mini burgers. In short, it was fantastic. I ordered the burger medium, and it was cooked medium. It contained a certain type of smoked bacon that made me feel like I was eating a campfire, but who doesn’t like campfires? I really am not a burger guy, but after eating this White label Burger I knew I made the right choice. The waiter said it’s a very popular item on the menu and probably the most ordered item at the bar downstairs. Although it is probably amusing for the bartender to watch people who maybe had one too many try to eat that burger.
Ristorante Morini White Label Burger
We were two-thirds of the way through our $40 price fix menu. We were getting to that point when we knew walking would be pretty difficult after this meal. We both knew that in a restaurant like this one, in which everything that we had so far was immensely exceptional, the deserts would probably be to die for. That was exactly how the person sitting next to us described the deserts when we asked If they had ever tried them before.
When Tiramisu is on the menu I’m probably going to order it. I saw it on their menu so there was no choice for me. Their Tiramisu did not disappoint. When their dessert chefs names is on the dessert menu you know it’s got to be good. Tiramisu was served in a cake like fashion filled with mascarpone mousse, lady finger, espresso, and amaretto. All the flavors blended together perfectly.
My wife ordered a cheesecake based dessert. This was no Cheesecake Factory type of dessert. This is like the deserts I tasted when I was in Paris, Rome and Venice. Yes, I know it was my wife’s desert but do you think I was just going to stand there and watch her eat it all by herself? The desert was part ricotta cheesecake, shortbread, strawberry rhubarb, and strawberry prosecco sorbet. We were told that the way to eat it was to slice a piece of cheesecake off and then dip it in all the other ingredients. This way you could enjoy the brilliant recipe that the Master Chef had created in it’s most enjoyable state of being. Yes, dramatic I know, but so worth every bite.
Our experience dining at Ristorante Morini was an extraordinary joyful experience that we just happened to walk into. Isn’t that how sometimes life’s greatest moments happen? In the end, this was a find. Ristorante Morini is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten in and probably the best value I have ever received for my restaurant dollars. If you want to spend some time in a restaurant with Incredible food, great ambiance, a friendly staff and not go broke doing it, Ristorante Morini is a perfect choice. If you’re in New York City, you need to pay this place a visit. You will so not be disappointed