Young and Hungry

Check Out the Menu for Osteria Morini, Opening Tomorrow

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New York chef Michael White opens his new Italian restaurant Osteria Morini, which is centered around pasta and grilled meats, along the Capitol Riverfront tomorrow. The restaurant takes inspiration from the Emilia-Romagna region in central Italy.

Matthew Adler, who's worked at nearly all of White's restaurants, is the executive chef of the D.C. location. The majority of the menu is the same as Osteria Morini's locations in SoHo neighborhood of New York and in New Jersey, although Adler will offer a few things unique to D.C. Some of the signature pastas include cappalletti—"little hats"—with truffled ricotta, melted butter, and prosciutto; green and yellow gramigna—curlicue pasta whose name means "little weeds"—with a pork sausage ragu; tagliatelle with a three-meat ragu; and stracci, wide ribbon pasta with braised wild mushrooms and rosemary oil. The opening menu includes a total of 10 pasta dishes, ranging from $17 to $20. Adler says he will continue to add more pastas.

Entrees, including steaks, pork chops, and fish, center around a wood-burning grill on full display from a window looking into the kitchen. Prices range from $26 (grilled cornish hen) to $43 (12 oz. veal rib chop or 14. oz. dry-aged ribeye with bone marrow sugo).  There are also boards with cured meats and cheeses, crostini, salads, and antipasti like tomato-braised baby octopus and crispy pig head terrine.  (See the full menu below.)

There will also be a happy hour at the bar with drink and food specials, including arancini, skewered meats and vegetables, and crispy ravioli. The bar features two beers and two wines on tap. The wine list also focuses around the same region as the food, and cocktails will incorporate Italian spirits and amaros plus infusions.

Osteria Morini will just be open for dinner for now, but lunch and brunch are coming soon. Also stay tuned for a patio overlooking the waterfront next spring.

Osteria Morini, 301 Water St. SE; osteriamorini.com/washington-dc/index.php

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Photos by Jessica Sidman

  • Ben

    Curious to know if you chatted with him much about the business model and the pricing. I live down that way, and I just have trouble seeing how a place with $26+ entrees works there. It's a DOT business lunch crowd, augmented by a bit of evening business from residents down there, who by and large aren't wealthy. Is there enough down there for it to be a destination/special occasions joint? Bluejacket surely helps in that regard, but...

    I'm sure I'm missing something. But color me dubious that a higher-end joint works at that park, at least for now.

  • sbc

    I wonder if they'll have a lot of special events business--office holiday parties, weddings, etc. It's definitely a beautiful location, right on the water, and the food looks nice. But I doubt I'll go; the prices are so high!

  • monkeyrotica

    People are paying $20 for a plate of horrible at Trattoria Alberto. I have no problem paying the same for something that doesn't taste like pasta Hitler.

  • Minister of Belgium

    Brussels sprouts, with a capital "B" please.

  • DC = $ > taste

    Expense account diners, right this way! We have a $500 table for 4 complete with derivative food and a list of faux-expensive wines that we will serve you at an improper temperature!

  • Corky

    Looks good to me. I will try it out. And will never ever in life eat another Brussels sprout. They should be banned!

  • FoundryResident

    As a foundry lofts resident we are excited for another new place to eat at the Yards Park.
    I just hope that the portion size and quality of the food are great. If the food is good the price is not an issue.

    What hurts Kruba another place to eat down at the Yards Park, is that the prices are so high and the portions are so small, it doesn't help that the food is just okay.

  • YardsParkResident

    As a resident I am happy to see another place go in...I am just not so sure about those prices!

  • Bents

    Have to agree with Ben. I live a couple of blocks away from Morini but I can't see myself going there. Small menu, zero local outreach so far, relatively high prices for not a particularly unique menu. For a lot less you can walk a few blocks to Barracks Row and have your pick of 10 or 15 excellent restaurants. They could have learned a few lessons from the buzz Bluejacket generated. Even Park Tavern did more...

  • EK

    FoundryResidents, you're totally wrong. Kruba's a bit pricey (for Thai, it's still cheap) and the portions are on par for what you'd get. They just look small because the plates are huge.

    The quality is WAY better than any of the other Thai around Capitol Hill, like Old Siam or what not.

  • EK

    Also, the restaurants on Barracks Row are generally nothing to write home about. Not worth leaving the neighborhood when Osteria and Bluejacket are right there.

  • Former Navy Yard Resident

    Many may want to like it, but will they return again and again?

    Opening pre-holiday/off-weather will be interesting, as they know, hence having intended for summer. How many residents/employees will be hosting vs. out of town. "Lunch coming soon" is a perpetual issue. No outdoor seating just yet for fluke sunny fall/winter/early spring days like today. Dark by 5pm, with a park with bare trees, wind, few winter events, closed 2 hrs after sundown and spotty water feature experiences may mean most people stay north or take the metro/highways home. Signage/Media/OpenTable/word-of-mouth will need to help them out for some time.

    At $7, I hope the cippolini onions are amazing and they make a profit like Jaleo has done with their no-protein sides (at least in the past), lest it look pretentious for no reason. With only two beers on tap, they may have competition with GB. Nicoletta opening later may snag people that just want anything Italian at all.

    Tiny tables close together, little decor, and full-length cold/hot glass walls make me concerned about sound and HVAC.

    Valet parking?

    Otherwise, I'm eager to taste their offerings and wish them only the best. In time it will likely be quite buzzing & busy. The neighborhood should host them really well come late Spring!

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  • HillResident

    I don't understand all the hand wringing over the prices. It's in the same ballpark as Rose's, Hank's, Belga, and Montmarte.

    Whether using the same price point as those places was a good idea is a separate question. Given the number of tables they have, and the lack of foot traffic, one could argue that they should have made *some* attempt to appeal to families, because, you know, the area is dominated by families. And I don't mean have a kids menu and cups with lids. I mean, if we are at Yards Park and want to get a quick dinner, we don't want to drop ~$100 (2 entrees + 2 drinks each + 2 kids meals).

    As for Barracks Row, it's a mixed bag. Some very good, some good, some bad, and some horrible. The horrible category definitely includes Trattoria Alberto (and Banana Cafe and the former Fusion Grill). I'll be generous and just call Lavagna bad.

  • Ben2

    ^^ I don't see it so much as "hand-wringing" as "you know, it'd be nice if there were more casual/affordable restaurants coming into the neighborhood." Are the entrees at this place overpriced? Given what other restaurants in this city charge, who's to say? But that's kind of the problem.

    The rapid evolution of so many of DC's neighborhoods from places nearly lacking sit-down restaurants of any kind to ones where everything opening is a high-end concept bar or small plate restaurant seems to leave a lot wanting. There seem to be a lot of "I can afford to go there every once in awhile"-places opening, and a dearth of "it's Tuesday evening and I just want something cheap and fast"-places. With many of the new establishments, it's hard to escape dinner for two with drinks for under $60. Maybe y'all are in a different income bracket from me, but I'm by no means poor and I can't imagine eating meals like that 3-4 nights a week.

    Anyway, I'm rambling a bit, and I wish Osteria Morini all the best. I just think that I, and others, would like to see some greater price diversity in many of the new places opening up around the city.

  • JES

    Nando's is already open, TaKorean and 100 Montaditos will be cheap fast-casual places, and Biersch and Justin's hardly break the bank. There's going to be room for everyone down here eventually, and ONE restaurant averaging 25+ dollars a plate isn't indicative of a larger problem, IMO.

  • Caroline

    I don't think the prices are exceptionally high. I live near Aqua al 2, a similar restaurant with similar prices, and it's always full even though the surrounding area is pretty quiet on weeknights. As long as the food, ambiance, and service are similarly good at Osteria I don't see why it wouldn't succeed.

    As for Ben2-- many of us dine at restaurants like this 1-2 times a month, and cook at home the rest of the time. Eating out 3-4 times a week is beyond excessive, even if you can afford it!

  • monkeyrotica

    Well, would he be able to afford this place if he wasn't eating out 3-4 times a week? MAYBE!

  • Dave

    "many of us dine at restaurants like this 1-2 times a month, and cook at home the rest of the time"

    Ehhh, the crowds at restaurants across the city would seem to say otherwise. Most people I know aren't dining out at restaurants like Osteria 3-4 times a week, but I don't know anyone who only eats out 1-2 times a month. That seems extraordinarily low.

  • HillResident

    Ben2,

    Are your comments based on idle speculation or reality?

    First, nearly every other restaurant in Capitol Hill/Navy Yard has lower prices, and several "fast casual" places have recently opened. So the idea that there has been this surge in high end places is simply wrong.

    Second, even at Tune Inn, two burgers ($18) and two drinks a piece ($24) will cost you 50-60 including tax and tip. Given that, I'm not sure what restaurants you expect to open up who can do better price-wise.

  • Caroline

    "Ehhh, the crowds at restaurants across the city would seem to say otherwise. Most people I know aren't dining out at restaurants like Osteria 3-4 times a week, but I don't know anyone who only eats out 1-2 times a month. That seems extraordinarily low."

    And the crowds at the farmers markets and ever-increasing demand for more grocery stores would seem to say otherwise. There are lots of people in DC that enjoy cooking.

  • Sue

    Where in DC can you get a good Italian entree for less than $17? Those prices are pretty standard. Can't wait to try it!

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