Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Morso NYC

I was invited to a press dinner at Morso a couple of weeks ago.  I immediately checked out the website and was pleased to see so many dishes I couldn’t wait to try.  As I walked down the stretch of 59th street between 1st Avenue and York, I saw a bright awning and then through the glass several pops of color – I had arrived.  Upon entering, I am greeted by a cheerful hostess. To my right I spy a long communal table that seems to be a private dining area. To the left is the main dining room.  It is well lit, and two walls are covered with 50s style pop art. I loved it!

We sat at one of the round tables that seats 4 or 5. The restaurant gives off a cool modern vibe in an effortless way.  The tasting menu looked fantastic and as soon as the first dish arrived, I started falling in love.  The Gorgonzola Fritter Salad was eye catching.

The aroma was also quite appealing.  I cut into a crispy shell and cheesy middle then took a bite.  I was slightly embarrassed at my audible moan. I just didn’t expect to enjoy it so much – after all, I generally am not a fan of too many cheeses.  The combination of gorgonzola, roasted pears, spiced walnuts and the apple cider vinaigrette was perfect.  The dish was light and I did not leave a bite on the plate.  When the Farro salad arrived, I thought I would have the same experience. 

It just didn’t do it for me. It was very hearty and grainy. The combination of roasted almonds, dried apricots, eggplant and Portobello mushrooms definitely screamed Mediterranean.  I took a few bites and my palette just didn’t appreciate the combination.  If you’re looking for a healthy and hearty starter, this is definitely your best choice. Our next dish was the Spaghetti Carbonara.

It is usually served with guanciale, but they made mine sans pork.  I almost melted eating this dish.  The pasta was al dente and the mix of eggs, pecorino and onions was incredible.  I was especially pleased because the dish was not especially creamy. It was just the right amount of creaminess built into the dish and it did not require any additional liquid.  I finished my entire plate and honestly wanted to ask for more. When I first scanned the menu, I must say the Capesante caught my eye. So imagine how delighted I was when it was on our tasting menu.

The sautéed scallops served on black rice gave me goosebumps.  The scallops were some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Perfectly caramelized on the outside and melt in your mouth good on the inside.  The black rice was an interesting accompaniment but it worked.  The limoncello sauce was subtle but definitely present.  Next up the Agnello. I debated about whether or not I would try this dish. After all, I haven’t eaten lamb in over a decade.  I decided to give it a shot.

I mean a dish that beautiful can’t be so bad, right? It definitely had Mediterranean flare since it was served with crispy eggplant & lamb roll, white beans and mint sauce.  There were also little lamb sausages in the sauce.  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  The beans were exquisite and the sauce brought everything together quite nicely.  The hint of spiciness left on my tongue after every bite was the best part.  After a short break to let our stomachs rest, we were treated to a dessert trio.  At an Italian restaurant Tiramisu is always expected.

This was different than any I’ve tried. Perhaps the blood orange sauce was the difference. The tiramisu was light and not too rich. I couldn’t resist the Chocolate Cake.

It was served with Vanilla gelato which would have been a great dessert on its own.  The dessert I least expected to enjoy turned out to be my favorite.

Pistachio Cake didn’t look like much when it came out but WOW it sure did pack a punch of flavor. I think I ate more than my share.  As I was eating, I kept thinking about all the other items I saw on the menu that I wanted to try.  I decided I had to come back…and I did.  At the end of that week, we celebrated my brother’s birthday at Morso. Our server that night was a bit chatty and overly explanatory, but I tend to be impatient so I won’t hold it against him.  The chef’s amuse that night didn’t photograph well but tasted delightful.

Beets with gorgonzola cheese and a limoncello sauce.  The beets were fresh and the contrasted quite nicely with the cheese.   Mama Bear ordered the pasta special of the day.  Our server described it as quill pasta in a yellow tomato sauce.

She loved the dish! I thought it tasted incredible. I’ve never had yellow tomato sauce, but this was amazing. The pasta was also delicious.  The birthday man ordered the Gnocchi Verdi.

I had been eying this dish since I first looked at the menu.  Gnocchi is one of my favorite dishes.  This was even better because it was spinach and in chicken and rabbit ragout.  Oh la la. Spinach gnocchi?! By far the best gnocchi I’ve ever had.  The rabbit and chicken combination was also spectacular.  I could eat this dish every day and never get tired of it. Y-squared ordered the Anatra.

What a beaut! Spiced duck breast with farro, dried cranberries, roasted pears and sweet and sour pomegranate sauce. The duck was sensational.  The crispy skin on the medium well duck breast was well seasoned and reminded me why I love duck so much.  I also had a chance to sample the Pheasant which was the Caccia (game of the day). 

Oh man! I had no idea pheasant could taste so good. It was served with gnocchi and small pieces of house made lamb sausage.  I was really impressed with how many ingredients were on the plate, but it still managed to come together well.  Everyone’s entrée was fabulous.  I enjoyed it so much I almost forgot to eat my own food.  I ordered the Caccuicco, a fish stew.

This was eye catching and definitely the kind of dish I would love.  Tons of seafood in a tomato sauce.  The seafood was great, but the sauce tasted a little thin. It needed a little more body and a pinch of salt.  The desserts were a great pick up.  They brought out a beautiful Tiramisu decorated with raspberries and a candle.

The Panna Cotta was fabulous as was the Cheesecake.  

All the desserts managed to be rich and flavorful but not overwhelming.  

Since they brought these out without us asking for them, I’m not quite sure whether or not they have a dessert menu. It may just be daily specials, which worked out quite well on two occasions!

Morso truly is fabulous. It is a restaurant with sophisticated dishes with fresh ingredients.  The décor is warm and inviting. The staff was very friendly on both occasions and I look forward to returning soon.

Hungry yet?

Morso on Urbanspoon

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