What I Ordered
- Westmalle Tripel Trappist Ale
- Pompelmo Paloma cocktail
- Burrata (house-made mozzarella with grilled and pickled ramps, and almonds)
- Tagliatelle al ragu (ragù antica, parmigiano)
- Pansotti (english pea filled pasta with pistachios, basil, and parmigiana)
In Short: Osteria Morini exceeded my Italian food standards from studying abroad and offered the perfect dining atmosphere to enjoy a warm evening by the Potomac.
Without planning to, Sean and I ended up having a swanky Italian dinner at Osteria Morini in D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood last night. We were in the area to soak up the evening’s remaining sun and 80-degree warmth, walking along the Potomac and ogling people’s dogs. While there are a lot of attractive restaurant options in this area with patio seating (this was my only requirement for our dinner choice on this occasion), Morini’s had a nice view of the river and the sight of other patrons’ pasta dishes reeled us in (please enjoy that maritime pun). Fun fact: Morini’s menu is inspired by Italy’s Emilia Romagna region (north of Tuscany), called the “Breadbasket of Italy.”
Our waitress was friendly, took our drink orders right away, and helped suggest an appetizer (which is when dinner took a turn from casual to splurge, oops). Sean got the Westmalle Tripel Trappist Ale, which wasn’t his favorite, while my “Pompelmo Paloma” cocktail (mina real mescal with house-made grapefruit soda, and lime) WAS a favorite. Sipping on smoky mescal with a view of the sunset over the water? Ideal combination and worth the price.
For our appetizer, we chose the burrata (house-made mozzarella with grilled and pickled ramps, and almonds). It was thinner than other burratas I’ve tried, almost like the consistency of Greek yogurt, and wasn’t served with anything to dip in it besides the house bread. While it was slightly awkward to have to continually ask for more bread to enjoy this dish, it was deliciously creamy and the almonds added a nice crunch. And let’s be honest. It’s an Italian restaurant – I probably would’ve requested continual bread anyway.
After much mozzarella-dipping, more dog-ogling, and a couple mini Italian lessons for Sean, (as restaurants are now the only place my Italian Studies degree matters) our entrees arrived. Sean got the tagliatelle al ragu, (wide noodles with meat sauce – ragu is also sometimes called bolognese) and I had the pansotti (english pea filled pasta with pistachios, basil, and parmigiana).
WOW. I sampled a lot of cuisine when I studied abroad in Italy, and our entrées were definitely on par with the real deal. I sometimes find stuffed pastas too rich for my liking, but the purée pea filling in my pansotti was just enough flavor to offset the parmesan sauce. I loved topping each bite of pasta with peas and pistachio – the resulting flavor was light enough to avoid a pasta coma but filling enough to conquer my hunger. However, the real star of our meal was Sean’s tagliatelle (I would like to note that this would have been my choice had he not claimed it first). Tagliatelle noodles are like thicker, wider fettuccini – a perfect texture to twirl with Italian meat sauce. I knew before stealing a bite that I would love it, and Sean loved it too. Ragu is typically more meat than actual sauce, and Morini mixed in some diced carrot which gave the dish an earthy, rustic flavor. My pasta was good, but this gave me serious entrée envy.
I give this impromptu upscale Italian dinner five stars – for taste, service, dining environment, and available puppy-watching. It was pricier than I think we planned on for a spontaneous Monday outing, but worth it, and I hope to try their happy hour as an alternative. While nobody’s Italian cooking can beat my host mother Alessandra’s in Florence, this was a very enjoyable meal. I definitely recommend Osteria Morini.
Make a RESERVATION at Osteria Morini.