Sara and I got the opportunity to attend a fabulous wine dinner at Osteria Morini in Bernardsville, NJ. We entered this cute little restaurant to see a beautifully decorated inside. There was a bar, an open kitchen concept, and plenty of tables! There were Hors d’oeuvres being passed around on the bar as a buffet style. We were also given Lambrusco wine when we walked in. Lambrusco chilled, sparkling wine that originates from Emilia-Romagna, Italy, which is the area where Osteria Morini’s cuisine originates from.
There were fine meats and cheeses, dips and crackers, olives and some fruit. Everything was so good and everyone was so nice. They had the whole place closed for this wonderful wine dinner featuring owner and Chef Michael White.
They also had some other appetizers being passed around, such as a quail egg with Truffle oil on it. They passed around some rosemary bread as well, it was so moist and delicious and warm, my favorite!
Once we sat down, they started to serve the first wine, a Vermentino Cantne Santadi “Willa Solais”. This wine is a dry and acidic white wine. It was refreshing. Alone you could taste and oak and acidity in it. When pairing it with the dish, it really complimented it. The first dish was an Anti-Pasta, Spugnoli. This was made up of Morel Mushroom, Mortadella Ripieno, Crushed Fava Beans, and Salsa Verdi. As I said, the wine complimented this dish; it really blended the acidity in the wine with the light cream taste. The two together created a sweet and very light flavor and finish. The dish alone was very good; it was placed on top a cracker with the Salsa Verdi all over the plate and on the food. It was a great start.
The second course started with the wine, a Gavi di Gavi Franco Martinetti. This was another white wine; it was sweeter and less dry than the last one. A great wine to sip alone, it is a very fruity and light but not overly sweet but a bit dry. This wine was perfect for the second dish, our Pasta Course; Lumache Neri. This dish was a Lobster & Shrimp Ragu with Peas and Asparagus. This dish was absolutely delish and creamy. The pasta was a dark, almost black, color. The food was tender and paired very well with the crisp white wine. The sweetness in the wine helped cut the rich buttery taste. The top also had some texture; it seemed to be a light bread crumb of some type. The meal was delicious, it was tender and really a great dish on its own. This could have been my meal for the evening, as it was also a big portion.
The Third course was the main Entrée, Costata. This Entre was a Prime “120” day dry-aged Ribeye with Pecorino Potatoes, and bone marrow Sugo. This dish was served as a family style dish with our table. The rib-eye was huge and cooked to perfection. It was a medium-rare. The side dish was a Pecorino cover sliced potato, and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. The seasoning on the steak was outstanding and it was so tender it melted in your mouth. The potatoes were delicious with the cheese and salt and seasonings, it pared nicely with the Rib-Eye. And finally, the asparagus dish was delicious and a great bitter and plain side to go with the strong and robust flavor in the meat. The wine that was pared with this meal was a red; it was Super Toscana Campaccio Terrabianco. This red was very smooth and delicious; I could and would drink this alone. Paired with such a strong dish, it really brought out the flavor of the meat. Although this dish did not need the wine to accent how well it was prepared and cooked.
The end of the evening ended with a port type wine, Tenute Marchese Antinori. This was delicious and was a very sweet and smooth after dinner drink. The dessert was served like the appetizers, a buffet at the bar. We got to get up and pick, I tried one of everything. The main three, but not limited too, was Zuppa Inglese (Chocolate cake, rum, caramel custard, chocolate crema), Torta di Ricotta (Amaretto cake and apricot), and Tartaletta di Limone (Meyer lemon tart and basil meringue). Each dessert has a very unique taste to it; they really created each one separately. Some places only make one kind of dessert and stick to that, they did not. It was a fabulous way to end the evening. They also were passing around Coffee and Tea and an Apple Dumpling cake ball that was absolutely delicious. Every desert I tried, including the butter cookies, was so good. They don’t only take their main meals seriously here, but they end on a great note as well. The desserts and the port go great too, I love finishing a large dinner with a nice after dinner drink and a sweet cake or cookie to go with it!
Finally, Sara and I got the opportunity to meet and speak with Chef White. He is so fabulous and I cannot wait to visit this restaurant and his other locations in New York! He has restaurants all over the world. On the way out we got a bag filled with a menu of the restaurant and information as well as a muffin that was delicious! A great evening.