Morandi, West Village, New York

My sister said to me, ‘I think there’s a really good Italian within walking distance from you; you should give it a try’.  So on the Saturday night after we toured Central Park, we walked up to the restaurant in the West Village.

Morandi - it attracts a stylish crowd

Morandi – it attracts a stylish crowd

Morandi is situated on Waverly Place where it has enough set-back from busy 7th Avenue to not be affected by traffic noise like horns and sirens that resonate only constantly in New York City.

A summer's evening in the West Village - perfect for alfresco dining

A summer’s evening in the West Village – perfect for alfresco dining

You can make reservations however we didn’t have one but walk-ins are warmly welcomed.  Because we were there in summer, the multiple doors were open and flowed to the sidewalk leading to outdoor dining that is casual and relaxed.  However, we decided to sit inside at a table next to the open doors so it was almost an alfresco dining experience.  Pete was there for his final night in New York before heading to Washington and with just a few minutes to spare, he joined us for pre-dinner drinks.

The bar

Banquettes and wooden tables

The restaurant has raw brick walls and very wide timber floorboards and given the size of the space, it seems airy, rustic and welcoming.  There is music playing that adds to the casual Italian atmosphere and allows you to feel relaxed however it’s almost hard to hear over the noise in the restaurant.  This is not for those seeking a low-volume dining experience.

The bar

Wooden beams, wooden floors, wooden tables – very rustic

And because restrooms have become such a bane of my New York experience, I’ll just mention that in keeping with an ever-increasing but disappointing trend, the only bathroom is unisex.

The interior

It has a trendy, welcoming atmosphere

We had a very attentive waiter who asked us if we would like to start with a pre-dinner drink.  Pete and I thought that seeing it was summer we would start with a Prosecco cocktail (when in Rome…).  We had a Lamponi which is Prosecco with raspberries and it was very colourful and refreshing and completely relaxing and allowed you to settle into your chair and enjoy the ambience.

Lamponi, Raspberry Prosecco Cocktail $11.00

Lamponi, Raspberry Prosecco Cocktail $11.00

Pete and I then ordered a half bottle of wine to share and it seemed very Italian when it arrived in a thatched carafe.

A carafe of wine

A carafe of wine

For an appetiser Arabella ordered the Burrata e pachini which was burrata cheese with roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine.  I couldn’t help asking if we could share this.  It was a very refreshing, smooth and light appetiser.  I love how Italians can take a few seemingly simple ingredients and turn them into a masterpiece.  Italians really do excel in the simplicity of flavours.

Burrata e pachini $17.00

Burrata e pachini $17.00

I ordered the Piatto di salumi which I understood was a mixed salami plate of pistada, prosciutto ‘La Quercia, calabrese and finocchiona.  It was a wonderful plate of amazing flavours with prosciutto and fennel salami (finocchiona), a spicy salami (calabrese), and a pate made from very finely chopped mortadella and pancetta that was spread on toasted bread.  While the plate was consistent in colour, it was varied in flavour and all the meats were fresh, tender and moist but I think the highlight was the pate because I hadn’t before had mortadella and pancetta combined like this.

Piatto di salumi $19.00

Piatto di salumi $19.00

Then the entrees (main courses) arrived and this is where I had a problem.  It happened in three restaurants we visited but this was the worst.  Before I had even finished my appetiser our waiter arrived and asked if I had finished.  As the appetiser was sized more like a platter to share than an individual serving I looked at what remained on my plate and thought that I probably didn’t need to finish it so he could take it away.  But before I’d even finished telling him to do so, he swooped in, snatched away my plate and just when I thought I’d enjoy my glass of wine at a leisurely pace before the entree arrived, another waiter behind him slapped my main course in front of me.  Arabella said, ‘Mum, he was standing behind you the whole time; he brought out your pasta before he had even cleared the table of the appetisers’.  Now I don’t know what sort of speed these waiters think diners should be eating at but I like a pause, even a little gap, between courses.

Cavatelli con salsiccia d’agnello e piselli $18.00

Cavatelli con salsiccia d’agnello e piselli $18.00

I wasn’t pleased to have to eat the pasta so quickly upon not even finishing my appetiser and that may have affected how I felt about the pasta.  The pasta was Cavatelli con salsiccia d’agnello e piselli which was house-made pasta with lamb sausage, mint & pea shoots.  I felt the pasta was slightly underdone as there was a hard core in the centre of the pasta.  Overall the dish seemed very dry as there was no sauce and I thought it could have done with a drizzle of olive oil or perhaps some cream to give it a dash of moisture.  If the waiter had offered me some parmesan cheese, that would have been nice too. Arabella had the Paccheri con ragú di salsiccia which was the large tube pasta with spicy sausage ragú & smoked mozzarella.  She loved this and found it to be very robust but would have liked even more spice.

Paccheri con ragú di salsiccia $17.00

Paccheri con ragú di salsiccia $17.00

In keeping with the ‘rushed’ theme, as soon as we had finished our entrees (mains) we were offered the dessert menu.  As I needed a pause between courses I decided to peruse the menu on go-slow mode to give myself some time to enjoy my wine and allow the meal to digest. We were then offered the dessert menus and I felt like reading through what was offered very slowly so as to make sure I had some time to digest what I’d so far eaten.  But the waiter asked for our decision and so we went ahead and ordered and within seconds our desserts were in front of us.  It was as if we had to rush to make sure we completed our meal before the imminent end of the world. I ordered the Cannolini that was very pretty and filled with ricotta, pistachios & chocolate.  While the cannolini appeared to have a slightly burnt taste, the ricotta, pistachio and chocolate filling was sensational and I didn’t have any difficulty in finishing this very Italian dessert.

Cannolini  $7.00

Cannolini $7.00

Arabella ordered two scoops of gelato, hazelnut and vanilla.  We thought she was getting two scoops in the one serve but it seems she ordered two desserts as they arrived on separate plates.  The gelato was smooth and creamy without being overly sweet and each serve was more than generous.

Gelati $9.00

Gelati $9.00

I found Morandi to be fairly expensive and the food absolutely rushed to the table without thought of the diner perhaps needing a moment or two to finish chewing before the next course arrived.  While the setting is rustic, romantic and relaxed, the at-a-pace-rush-you-vibe destroys the ambience of the setting.

Raw brick archways

Raw brick archways

Verdict:  Dining on speed Morandi:  211 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014 Ph:  (212) 627 7575

Comments

  1. What a shame about the timing. For that very reason we only order one thing at a time, I know it’s bad for the kitchen but we don’t want to feel rushed. We at at that very same place http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/restaurant-review-morandi-nyc/ but our dinner was more around 9:30 and they didn’t rush us like that. The Burrata was exceptional. I didn’t think it was badly priced but then again we only ordered three appetizer plates. I’d definitely go back, but I would order one course at a time for sure!

  2. It’s hard to decide whether the entire experience was a good one or not based on the number of disappointments … between the noise and the iffy food quality, it wouldn’t be a ‘let’s try here’ soon for me.

  3. That is such a shame as the entree’s looked amazing! Italians are know for their sauce so it is surprising that your pasta was dry… :( Well it is still nice to as least have some good flavours, but it is disappointing when you have such a good start but then it doesn’t finish well! Liz x

  4. And it looks like such a beautiful restaurant.

    When my son was in NYC at Thanksgiving, he, too, mentioned the constant noise. I don’t think I could endure that for long. But then I am not a big city person. Not at all.

  5. Being rushed is very typical at New York restaurants. I think it’s because the rent is so high that they feel that they need to be constantly turning tables.

    I was once at a restaurant and made the mistake of putting my fork down for a moment to take a sip of water. The waiter suddenly leaped out and took my plate even though I was far from finished!

  6. Ahhhh…yes, I was wondering at what point you were going to experience “The New York Minute”. This seemed to be the best example of it. A shame too because this restaurant and menu seemed to have such potential! ~ April

  7. What a shame about the rushing! I guess they need to keep turning the tables over. It happens here too, but I’ve never had it happen at an expensive restaurant, although we were at a local Chinese place close to my parents’ house last weekend for an early dinner – 5pm start, and at 6.30pm when we’d just finished, the waitress came up and said, “you have to go now, we have another booking for this table”. :D The prosciutto and mortadella pate sounds intriguing!

  8. V hungry now – can I have these dishes for breakfast? Fab!

  9. That’s just not rushed, that’s rude. My husband has zero tolerance for this kind of service, and he actually verbalizes it. I can safely say had it been him, he would actually have refused to eat the Entre and asked for the check. I feel bad for this bad experience. hope you have better ones.

  10. Can you imagine being rushed through a meal in Italy or France? I certainly can’t. NYC is perhaps famous for this, but that is no excuse. Sorry you had a bad experience when you started off with such a lovely glass of Prosecco. I love the idea of the Lamponi–and hope you had time to enjoy it!

  11. I hate being rushed like that, it makes me want to ask if the food has suddenly reached it’s expiry date and needs to consumed instantly or something. I also hate unisex bathrooms- yuck!

  12. We had a similar experience of being rushed at an expensive New Year’s Eve dinner in a posh restaurant in Florida. In fact, the bus boy took my cocktail before I had finished it. I was able to get the cost of it deducted from our bill, but that feeling of being rushed out the door marred the evening. And, we likely won’t return to that establishment.

    I certainly understand your frustration with this New York restaurant!

  13. It does sound very rushed! And unisex toilets are something I’ve only come across a couple of times. It is a little strange!

  14. How could anyone find that kind of service anything but off-putting? I know that we Americans have a reputation of hurrying through our meals — not this American, mind — but that wait staff needs to be told to slow down a bit. What a shame.

  15. I’m sorry you were so rushed, Charlie. It seems in keeping with the idea that walk-ins were welcomed, but then they hoped for a quick turnover. That would really bother me, too, and very disappointing. I would wonder that they’d have a successful return business with that style of service!

  16. Argh I hate being rushed! We used to go to a Thai restaurant as a family and mum and dad always refused to order the main until we had had our entrees. The staff hated it and always argued the fact but otherwise you practically got it all together. How odd that they served the ice-cream like that too. Maybe they wrote the order like it was two separate desserts. Or maybe they thought she wouldn’t want the two flavours to touch?!

  17. The rushed service is even more off putting knowing the place is expensive Charlie, although I would happily enjoy a few Lamponi’s.
    Have a happy day.
    :-) Mandy xo

  18. That cannolini is reeling me in! It looks so stuffed with all the wonderful things! Yum!!!

    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

  19. Groan…how I wish I had been there with you.

  20. Really doesn’t sound like a pleasant dining experience, alas. Sounds like their whole business is set up to turn tables. Good for them, I guess, but I wonder how many repeat customers they get?

  21. I’ve experienced that sort of behavior in the US but not here. Booking a table for the night was totally new to me but that’s what happened in Albury Wodonga. No rushing, no stress – just all night entertainment and joy with friends or family.

  22. So disappointing that you had to rush! Your feelings about the restaurant would definitely have been affected by having to eat in such a hurry … I don’t think I would have enjoyed that no matter how wonderful the food was!

  23. Shame when restaurants rush you out the door and not really giving you enjoy time to sit and relax the food, wine and music! But this reminds me of the time we ventured to one of the oldest pizza restaurants in New York and ordered a pizza so big that I swear one slice was like the size of one average pizza!

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