Food debates can be a blood sport in New York, but when it comes to Italian restaurants, even the most persnickety New Yorker will admit there's something special about Osteria Morini.
The Altamarea Group (headed up by Ahmass Fakahany and multiple Michelin-starred chef and James Beard Award-winner Michael White) opened Morini in October 2010, appointing Bill Dorrler as chef de cuisine. "Cooking under Michael is an endless roller coaster of creativity and madness," says Dorrler, a New Jersey native who worked as an accountant for two years before launching his culinary career.
Dorrler cooks staples from Italy's Emilia-Romagna region (near the top of the boot), focusing on handmade pastas and grilled meats. Nothing is fussy; the rustic Italian dishes let their great ingredients speak for themselves. Order a bottle of lambrusco and split the buffalo mozzarella and figs topped with rosemary and drizzled with aged balsamic. The homey tagliatelle with ragú antica and Parmigiano might convince you that there's a troop of Italian grandmas stashed in the kitchen.
Dorrler sums up Morini nicely: "The atmosphere is loud. The staff is friendly. And the food is unrivaled." Can that energy be duplicated? The Altamarea Group thinks so. Morini has a second location in New Jersey and plans to open in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2013.