Ristorante Morini, Upper East Side

So there’s a little Italian restaurant on 86th Street and Madison that hands-down has some of the best homemade pasta I’ve ever tasted.  It’s called Morini, and it makes it’s pasta fresh from-scratch every  day, and you can get it for $10 after 8 PM Monday through Wednesday.  Its upscale bar and dining area make a great date spot if you’re looking for an extravagant meal, although if you’re not coming for the special be prepared for a hefty bill.

I must have passed Morini a million times before I tried it.  My boyfriend works across the street from it, so every time I head down his way I pass the sign advertising their $10 pasta special from 8 to close Monday-Wednesday.   Usually I’m battling with some type of carb-avoidance so I always avert my eyes and continue walking.  However after a particularly rigorous workout Matt and I decided to treat ourselves.

My first thought upon entering was that it was a nice place.  I immediately felt self-conscious because I was totally underdressed in my gym clothes, but when I set my mind on carbs I’m not giving up that easily.  The decor was modern, but the tables had sophisticated table settings and chairs.  There were two floors, although I felt like the second story probably wasn’t for general dining.  It’s a pretty small place and the bar takes up a large part of the room.  The tables closest to the wall had a loungey feel with pillows decorating the couch-like bench seats.

The service was excellent and the waiter immediately came over with water and bread.  the bread was so good.  It was positively dripping with olive oil and crusted with salt and herbs.  Dipping it in even more olive oil was like heaven in my mouth.  We finished two baskets of bread.

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Oh, and don’t forget the wine.  The wine was fantastic.  I got the sauvignon blanc, and made the mistake of not looking at the prices before I ordered.  We were surprised to learn that the glass of wine cost $16 when we got the check 🙂  Although I can’t say I blame them.

For the pasta special, you can basically pick from 8 different pasta dishes.  Regularly priced they range from $25-$29, so yeah, go on one of the special nights.  The only two pasta dishes that weren’t included was the Tortelli with lobster and the mushroom risotto.  I decided to get spaghetti with clams bianco, since it’s been a while since I had a good clam sauce.  Matt decided to get the Tortelloni,  which are little raviolis filled with ricotta and basil.

I have to say, both dishes were superb.  Something about the pasta was just so decadent.  It almost melted in your mouth, and it tasted like how pasta should taste.  It was perfectly salted and al dente, and I could really appreciate the texture of each individual strand of pasta.  Is that weird?  The clam sauce was beautiful, with plump clams adding saltiness and brininess to the silky sauce.  The toasted breadcrumbs on top added a nice crunch and some garlic flavor.

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Matt’s tortelloni was equally good.  The raviolis almost popped in your mouth as you bit into the paper-thin pasta coating.  And the ricotta mixture in the raviolis was so creamy it was unreal, and just oozed out after a bite.  It was definitely a decadent dish and you should certainly have a nice glass of white wine handy to refresh your palate.

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Morini would be a good place for a “fancy” meal, like a birthday dinner or anniversary celebration.  If you really went all out with wine and appetizers the bill would be astronomical, but certainly it’s worth it for a special night out.  If you’re watching your budget though then go for the amazing special; you really need to taste how good this pasta is!  Morini gets 4.25/5 stars!

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