Recently, I saw Suzanne Vega perform in a one-woman show theater piece and as it ended early, my friend and colleague Marlene (a fellow MSW and excellent psychotherapist) decided to drop into the nearby Morandi for a post-theater bite cocktail.
I remember when this Keith McNally Italian eatery opened a few years back - his first, he had stuck to Frenchy-world before then. The New York Times review was not particularly kind; as I was happy with Pastis and am rarely in the West Village, I didn't check it out until this past month.
I’ve sat at the bar a few times now, for hours, watching the restaurant turn over tables once, twice, then three times with everyone dining, drinking, laughing and enjoying. Business is booming and from what I’ve seen, with good reason: the food is yum, the atmosphere fun and convivial, and in my case, dinner can be made or adjusted to be allergen-free very easily.
(So take that New York Times review. Can't always believe what you read and/or places change over time, with new chefs, different economy, and new staff. Note to self: Most places are worth a second look.)
I did not dine on that first visit to the bar but did ask Peter, the seriously attractive bartender (if you go in, feel free to drop my name if you’re dining allergen-friendly) about food allergies and the kitchen. (Remember my strategy about dining at the bar that I talked about on The Cooking Channel - it works!) He said: “We take food allergies very seriously here. You tell me what you need and I will talk directly with the kitchen and I’m sure they will accommodate you.” Then he said the magic words: “You should come back on Saturday, we have a lamb chop special that is really great.” I went back to the bar twice more on Saturday for the those lamb chops. Cooked to medium perfection, seasoned perfectly, and prepared simply but expertly – this is my new favorite dish. They are plated with seasonal vegetables: one week olives and tomatoes, the next roasted summer squash. And the chops were prepared in a clean pan for me, away from the fishy grill.
Full disclosure, I haven’t tried anything else on the Morandi menu, yet, but since this is a McNally group I bet they will take equal care with other dishes I may want to try and I look forward to the challenge.
211 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014-2737
tel: (212) 627-7575