Dining by the water can feel like a production. Making your way through the crowds on the weekends can make it a bit of a time commitment. We really enjoyed our brunch experience at Osteria Morini, so we figured we would embrace the holiday commotion and gather there for a D.C. team holiday dinner. After, we realized weeknights at Navy Yard may be the play from now on. Osteria Morini has locations in SoHo, NYC, and New Jersey but it manages to not feel like a chain.
It was a cold, wet, and windy evening in the nation’s capital and all we wanted were bowls of steaming carbs, boards of creamy cheeses, and glasses of heartwarming red wines. The general manager energetically welcomed us as we stumbled in soaking wet. He was kind enough to send out a variety of Morini’s favorites, as we were just too exhausted by the storm and holiday rush to think about what to order for ourselves.
After a toast of Prosecco and full glasses of a delicious Super Tuscan, we were settled in our seats and ready to dive in.
The Battilardo charcuterie board arrived and nearly spanned the width of the table. It consisted of cured sliced meats with accompanying spreads served with grilled bread. Specifically, we enjoyed prosciutto di parma, soppressata, parmigiano “Gelato,” Lou Bergier (a semi hard cow’s milk cheese), and Bianco Sardo (a goat’s milk cheese).
Mid-consumption, we all paused and looked at each other to remind one another this was merely the antipasto section of our meal, and we still had to tackle the pastas, entrees, and desserts to follow. We took a few more bites and reluctantly gestured to our waitress to wrap the rest for later.
The homemade pasta at Osteria Morini is something special, if not the reason you go there altogether. We devoured the Cappelletti, Campanelle Nero, and Gramigna. The Cappelletti is the best-selling pasta on the menu, and for good reason. The pasta is like ricotta tortellini with truffle, melted butter, and prosciutto. The truffle is strong, yet doesn’t overpower the other flavors that dissolve in your mouth harmoniously.
Campanelle Nero is a squid ink pasta served shrimp, scallops, and espelette. This salty pasta is textured to add additional chew and cling to the surrounding sweet tomato sauce. Sprinkled with tangy cheese, this pasta’s umami qualities are something we’re still salivating over.
Our pasta adventure continued with Gramigna. Gramigna is a flat noodle served with pork sausage, pomodoro, pecorino, and chili flakes. There’s something about this ragu pasta that just gives you the feels. Like a warm bowl of chili and your mom’s spaghetti with meat sauce had a baby, Osteria Morini’s Gramigna is everything you want out of a hearty comfort food.
The mains arrived just as we were slurping our final bites of pasta. We shared a fresh, whole Mediterranean sea bass called Bagna Cauda. This fish was so flaky and moist, the bones became a work of art left on the plate. The dish was supported by vegetables and grilled lemon for a touch of acid and citrusy caramelization. This skin on sea bass was finger-licking-good.
Next we had Braciola, a bone-in hampshire pork chop. The pork was tender and not overly fatty or chewy. It had a molasses-y exterior that coated your mouth to sweeten the smoky meat. This was a heavier dish, so you may want to factor it in to your decisions when ordering.
All of this lovely protein was served with some contorni, Italian side dishes. We had a delightful helping of Cavolfiore, a cauliflower dish cooked in brown butter vinaigrette topped pine nuts, and sweet golden raisins, as well as Zucca, a delicata squash presented with whipped ricotta, walnuts, and balsamic reduction. Folks, fans, and friends, we conquered the menu at Osteria Morini, from breads and meats, to vegetables and cheese. Just as we thought we’d tasted it all, our server reminded us a meal is not complete without something sweet.
We gave in knowing if the dessert was half as good as our meal, we wouldn’t regret it. We had a gluten free tiramisu which was superb. The coffee-soaked lady fingers, mocha mousse, mascarpone filling, and espresso cremeux, created a tiramisu with an exceptional attention to detail for such a common Italian dessert. This dish was gone within seconds.
At this point, one last food remained: the Banana e Noci, a white chocolate banana cream tart with walnut croquant and molasses whipped cream. This was a more sophisticated version of a banana cream pie, and we couldn’t have been happier. We seldom find banana flavored things in fine-dining restaurants, but this worked. Osteria Morini should probably think about selling these in bulk.
It was time to digest the only way the Bitches know how: with cocktails. To remain in the holiday spirit we sipped on a Rum and Cocoa as well as a Gingerbread Toddy. The Rum and Cocoa was an adult hot chocolate. The drink was created with valrhona dark and milk chocolate and mixed with El Dorado rum. The hot chocolate was surprisingly light and not overwhelmingly sweet, but could probably be ordered in lieu of dessert. The Gingerbread Toddy on the other hand, was a perfect way to end the meal—dessert included. The toddy was concocted with hot gingerbread spiced Appleton rum and served with a lemon wheel. In the best possible way, this drink resembled a ginger herbal tea. Whether it actually aided with digestion or not didn’t really matter, it felt right.
Glug the wine, nosh the cheese, twirl the pasta, save room for the dessert, end with the cocktails, and be merry. In. That. Order.