Friday, January 20, 2012

Steak and Pasta for Six at Morini

Another day, another White restaurant. This time the Fashionista and I found ourselves in our native downtown stomping grounds at Osteria Morini with several skinny young things from her showroom in tow. "We want the Beef Aficionado/Fashionista dining experience" they had foolishly requested a few days earlier. Not realizing what that meant and how difficult it would be to get in to their jeans the next day. This request could have landed us at any number of places - Minetta Tavern or Balthazar, one of the Momofuku restaurants, a steakhouse. But since we were six we chose Morini because it is the perfect place for such proceedings - a casual mood, great service, an ability to accommodate large parties and food that we both adore. 
Executive Sous Chef Asi Maman and the 64oz Porterhouse
Despite being renowned for pasta Morini is, even on a average day, a carnivores delight  but on occasion they run a dry aged steak for two special. I had a better idea. I called ahead and requested something bigger. Much bigger. The steaks at Morini come from my man Pat LaFrieda. I spent a month in his dry age room working on Pat LaFrieda's Big App for Meat and I knew that one of his prime porterhouse steaks from Creekstone Farms would be perfect for our needs.

I was shocked when I popped into the kitchen to visit the Executive Sous Chef Asi Maman to look at the steak in its raw state - not because of its sheer size - which must have been around 64oz, nor because of the prodigious degree of mold that covered the cut - but because of the amount of marbling on the tenderloin. It looked like a piece of Wagyu. As you might imagine a steak that size takes a little time to cook so we started off with some light snacks.

Prosciutto di Parma, Sopressata, Mortadella, Coppa
Tortellini in Brodo nutmeg parmigiano, parsley
GARGANELLI pasta quills, cream, radicchio, truffle butter, prosciutto
CAPPELLETTI truffled ricotta ravioli, melted butter, prosciutto
GRAMIGNA macaroni, pork sausage, tomato, cream, black pepper
TRIANGOLI DELLA NONNA braised beef, sugo di arrosto, toasted Brussels sprout leaf
STRICCHETTONI bow tie pasta, braised wild mushrooms, rosemary oil
       Mussetto: white polenta with pig face, cinnamon, clove, cockscombs, cottecchino, taleggio creama

We worked our way through some incredible appetizers and pastas and several bottles of wine. Both the Fashionista and I were pretty impressed by the amount of food the skinny young things consumed and their willingness to try new things; even more so when the steak showed up and it was almost completely devoured. It was perfectly cooked, especially for such a large cut - the inside a rosy red with cool center, the outside a deep mahogany - a better preparation that many steakhouses achieve. It had the funky, mineral rich tang of dry aging and was amazingly tender.  Of particular note was the aforementioned filet, which I usually discard in favor of the strip. But here it was just as marbled and packed with flavor as the strip side. A truly magnificent piece of meat perfectly prepared. We didn't save room for dessert so of course we ordered some anyway.

apple brown butter cake, cider caramel, vanilla gelato
meringue, blood orange sorbetto, pistachio gelato, whipped cream, citrus

At meals end Asi asked me how everything was. I could pay him no bigger compliment than to say that the meal could have come from White's own hand. Don't miss out on this steak if you see it on the specials menu (it is usually served for two) If you don't see it ask about it anyway, perhaps if enough people ask for it it will become a permanent menu item.

Osteria Morini 218 Lafayette Street  New York, NY 10012

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