Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

January 29, 2016 11:55 AM

Restaurant: Osteria Morini

Osteria Morini

301 Water Street S.E.
Washington, DC
Debbie and I went to Osteria Morini with Rhoda, Debra and Michael on a Saturday night.

Other than a couple of trips to the baseball stadium, I have not spent any time in Southeast Washington in recent years (or ever for that matter). But it has clearly become a destination. There are many new restaurants, apartments and office buildings. Among the new restaurants are Due South, The Arsenal at Bluejacket, and Aqua 31. A place I must try on another visit is a store called Jubilee Ice Cream, which is in the same building as Osteria Morini. Even on a very cold night there were at least a half dozen people in the store.

The restaurant has floor to ceiling glass walls on two sides. As you enter the restaurant on the water side there is a reception desk straight ahead. To the immediate left there is a small area with high tables that will seat 8-10 people. Continuing on the left there is a long bar, which seats 14 people in high backed stools. The wall behind the bar is a mirror and completely covered, it seems, with every kind of liquor one can imagine. Starting at the end of the bar, which is about half way down the restaurant, the open kitchen begins. It runs all the way to the back of the restaurant.

The entire right side of the restaurant is dedicated to seating. There are 2, 4 and 6 tops which can easily be configured to provide a larger table. There are a couple of separate sections along the right side. There is also an area that can be closed off for events, which has a U shaped table that looks to seat around 30 people.

The restaurant seats around 220 people when fully occupied, and like so many of these large restaurants, it is quite noisy, but we were able to have a normal voiced conversation.

There is also a small glassed-in area which provides the grill for the kitchen.

The crowd was on the younger side; I suspect we were the oldest table in the room. But most interesting, families were there with very young children.

At our table there was quite a bit of sharing.

First we shared two salads, Insalata Verde – escarole, radicchio, truffle vinaigrette, radish, pecorino; and Cacio e Pepe – romaine, fried capers. Both were excellent and particularly tasty.

Along with the salads we had Trota – smoked trout, olives & sour cream; Ceci – chickpeas, broccoli rabe pesto, almonds; and Burrata – house made – mozzarella, grapefruit, pistachio, prosciutto.

Rhoda and Debra shared Branzino – Mediterranean sea bass, chickpeas, charred broccoli, taggiasca olives, bagna cauda. Debbie ordered Spaghetti – manilla clams, charred Treviso, bottarga. Michael ordered Anatra – duck breast, spaetzli, mushrooms, spinach, radish. I ordered Tagliatelle – ragu antica, Parmigiana.

For dessert we shared Mele – Gold Rush apple, vanilla bavarian, candied pecan brown butter cake, maple pecan gelato; and Tortino – warm guanaja dark chocolate cake, caramelized jivara milk chocolate, vanilla gelato.

On warm days and nights there is outside seating along the waterfront side of the restaurant.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights I am told that the restaurant turns its tables over 2.5 times. All of which is to say that reservations are critical on those nights.

The service was quite attentive, not withstanding this was the first day that our server worked in the restaurant.

The men’s room is inviting, despite the fact that both restrooms are located as far from the front of the restaurant as is possible.

The floor of the men’s room is covered by very large, oblong, tan tile-like material. The walls around the wash basins are covered with tan mid-size tiles and the urinals and commode walls are covered with yet smaller tan bricks.

Directly to your right upon entering are two square sunken ceramic washbasins with a very large mirror directly in front of them.

Just past the washbasins are two wall-hanging ceramic white urinals with a floor to ceiling separation of tan wood.

Directly across from the urinals is a single large commode area with floor to ceiling walls.

There is no street parking. Parking Lot L is located on 3rd Street Southeast and an easy walk to the restaurant. The restaurant is located in the southern-most building on Water Street Southeast between 3rd and 4th Streets Southeast. The main entrance faces the water on the southeast side of the building.

As you might guess, finding a parking place to enjoy the restaurant on game day could be problematic unless you are already planning to go to the game.

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