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Osteria Morini, Bernardsville - review based on 2 dinners


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Osteria Morini, Bernardsville - review based on 2 dinners

chowhounder411 | | Feb 21, 2012 05:11 PM

I have dined here 2 times in the past week. It has been good-great. The first time we ordered the following:
Appetizers: The seafood salad with shrimp, calamari, scallops, I think frisee lettuce, lemon and capers - it was very fresh and nice. We also got the ricotta and spinach gnudi. They were pan roasted and tasted good but I expected gnudi a la Spotted Pig - boiled, light, fluffy pillows - and these failed totally in matching that greatness. I didn't know gnudi were even prepared pan roasted and the menu did not mention this.

Dinner: Crispy black sea bass was very fresh but as much as I want to like fish prepared with the skin on, I just cannot. The skin leaves too much fishy flavor for me. I thought the "crispy" was from pan roasting the top of the skinless filet but it was from crisping the skin (I don't know the method). You may love this dish, it was great and I was able to appreciate it. I just don't like the flavor of the skin. My dining companion got the pork chop and loved it but I didn't try it.

2nd dinner
A different companion basically got a Due Terre dinner. The mista salad and the chicken. Both looked like before, both were excellent before, both were excellent now. I got a calamari with lettuce and citrus salad which despite coming out fried (which there was no mention of in the description), was wonderful! Great balance of flavors and tastes - juicy, crunchy, sour, sweet. I loved it. For dinner, I substituted gnocchi for spaghetti with pomodoro sauce and it was also excellent with full bodied tomato sauce and chewy homemade pastas. This dinner was a home run.

Also, focaccia doesn't get much better than what's served here. It is perfect.

In comparison to Osteria Morini in Soho NY, I find the NY location to have much more interesting and exotic ingredients. It also leans much further to the comfort side of rustic Italian cooking. I was disappointed but not shocked to find White's much celebrated porchetta did not make it across the river. Osteria Morini Bernardsville is a very good restaurant but is definitely not a Morini in my opinion because of the more nutritionally balanced, suburban-taste leaning menu. The decor in Bernardsville is rustic but the food and it's presentation is still more Due Terre.

I found the local dining scene to be cluttered with fine dining and I grouped Due Terre in this. I did not care for the dining room especially. Despite the food experience at Morini NJ being closer to Due Terre than Morini NY, I think they made very relevant changes and created something better. I will return to Morini NJ often.