Ai Fiori (Private Dining)

We are so thrilled to be hosting a very special celebration at Ai Fiori, a restaurant that means a great deal to us. Ever since our first taste of the lobster vellutata and trofie nero pasta, we have been in love. It’s so exciting to have our family and friends experience the dishes from which we derive so much joy. The decadent four course meal began with a delightful amuse bouche of parmesan panna cotta — the perfect starter. I could barely contain my elation as the lobster vellutata was being poured into my bowl… it was just as exquisite as I remembered. So elegant and rich, yet cozy and comforting. Truly the best soup I’ve ever eaten. Next up was the best squid ink pasta on the planet: trofie nero! This was a unanimous favorite among our guests. The beautiful astice (butter poached lobster) and tagliata (dry-aged strip loin) followed, and the night ended with two scrumptious desserts (olive oil cake and dark chocolate mille feuille). The food was perfectly complemented by a lovely selection of wines (prosecco, sancerre, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon) chosen by Sommelier Colin Thoreen. It was an extraordinary night and we are so thankful to the Ai Fiori team for making our event a memorable one!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Amuse bouche: Parmesan Panna Cotta

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The anticipation builds as the Vellutata is poured

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Vellutata (lobster velouté, perigord black truffles, tarragon)

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Trofie Nero (Ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica)

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Tortelli (ricotta & mascarpone ravioli, sottocenere cheese, red wine glaze)

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Astice (butter poached Nova Scotia lobster, garden beans, gold bar squash purée, breakfast radish)

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Tagliata (prime dry aged strip loin, endive, potato terrine “cacio e pepe”, Balsamico, bordelaise)

Ai Fiori (Private Dining)

Osteria Morini

Homemade pasta is one of my favorite things in the whole world. So it’s no surprise that I would want to have my birthday dinner at Osteria Morini, which features a whopping fourteen different pastas! My fiance and I studied the menu before we came and knew exactly what we wanted: a couple of light appetizers (rucola salad with crispy speck, lambrusco vinaigrette, pears & parmigiano and the pasta pie with ragu antica & parmigiano), followed by our top four pasta picks (gramigna, torcia, cappelletti, and spaghetti alla vongole). (I was so excited that I actually forgot my camera at home! :( I didn’t realize it until we were at the restaurant, so it was too late to do anything about it. I apologize for the poor picture quality! The photos do not do these dishes any justice. Anyway, back to the food…) The meal was every bit as amazing as I anticipated — a truly magnificent pasta fest! I fell in love with the gramigna (macaroni with pork sausage, tomato and cream). It’s so simple and so tasty! I love pastas that feel like a warm, cozy blanket. :) I was also reunited with a longtime love, the cappelletti (truffled ricotta ravioli with butter and prosciutto) — another simple dish, but so rich in flavor. After such an incredible feast, I had the pleasure of enjoying three amazing desserts: tiramisu, milk chocolate budino, and assorted gelatos (espresso, pistachio, and salted caramel). Endless thanks to Chef Michael White, the Osteria Morini team, and Altamarea Group for an absolutely perfect birthday dinner!

Osteria Morini: 218 Lafayette Street (between Spring and Broome)

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Tasty House Sodas (sarsaparilla and lemon)

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Rucola salad w/ crispy speck, lambrusco vinaigrette, pears, parmigiano

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Pasticcio alla Morini (pasta pie w/ ragu antica & parmigiano)

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Gramigna (macaroni, pork sausage, tomato, cream)

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Spaghetti Alla Vongole (clams, leeks, white wine)

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Torcia (squid ink pasta, shrimp & seppia ragù)

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Cappelletti (truffled ricotta ravioli, butter, prosciutto) — my apologies for the blurry photo!

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Birthday tiramisu!

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3 amazing gelatos: espresso, pistachio, and salted caramel… and one delicious chocolate cookie

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Milk Chocolate Budino (chocolate custard, stone fruits, cardamaro granita, cocoa nibs)

Osteria Morini

Nicoletta

We’re celebrating a special occasion tonight at Nicoletta — the 50th birthday of a beloved family member! Nothing like pizza and gelato to commemorate fifty great years and the next chapter in life. :)  Since we had a large group, we ordered family style and shared everything from stromboli and arancini to meatballs and pizza. We also each received a little bowl of the best Italian wedding soup on the planet, which I was super excited about! To top off the celebration, we ordered a round of fior di latte gelatos with a variety of tasty toppings, including my two favorites: salted caramel and espresso caramel. Thanks to Chef Michael White and the awesome team at Nicoletta for a fantastic meal!

Nicoletta: 160 Second Avenue (at East 10th Street)

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Stromboli (pepperoni, mozzarella, parmesan, pomodoro)

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Arancini (fried porcini risotto, parmesan fondue, chives)

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Arugula salad with apple, walnuts, shaved parmesan, lemon vinaigrette

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Italian Wedding Soup (chicken broth, mini meatballs, ditalini pasta, sauteed spinach, parmesan)

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Brick oven baked neapolitan meatballs with pomodoro & bread crumbs

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Can’t go wrong with a classic! The Classica pizza

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Funghi pizza w/ wild mushrooms, sauteed spinach, porcini marsala, mozzarella, garlic

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Salted rum caramel or espresso caramel? Can’t decide, so ordered both!

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Creamy fior di latte gelato and espresso caramel

Nicoletta

Ristorante Morini

Three of my favorite foodie friends and I ventured way uptown on a rainy Friday night to check out Chef Michael White’s newest NYC spot, Ristorante Morini.  We are all HUGE fans of Chef Michael and have been to all of his other restaurants here in the city. Needless to say, we were super pumped to chow down on some amazing Italian food. The night turned out to be an unforgettable experience from start to finish. There was an insane amount of food coming out of the kitchen and onto our table, we almost couldn’t keep up! (Keyword: ALMOST). The tuna and amberjack crudos were incredible and so were the five pastas that we all shared (tortelli, ferratini, garganelli, agnolotti, and paccheri). I ordered the agnolotti with beef shank as my appetizer (and made sure to specify that I wanted an entree-sized portion ;)) — I had heard and read so much about this dish, I just had to have it. It lived up to all of my expectations and more! Perfect beef-filled pillows of pasta goodness. I am also officially obsessed with the squid ink tortelli and ferratini carbonara. For my entree, I went with the beef short rib — at the recommendation of a kind and knowledgeable gentleman who gave us the lowdown on all of this dishes — and I am SO glad that I did! It was silky, fatty, and melt-in-your-mouth tender. Short ribs are the reason I wake up in the morning. (I’m not kidding.) After inhaling pretty much everything (man, do I love girls who can eat!), out came three beautiful desserts. My favorite was the pistachio stracciatella gelato — I”m crazy about pistachio anything. By the time we were completely finished and ready to roll ourselves out the door, the entire dining room was empty and it was after midnight. What a marvelous experience! I loved spending quality time with my friends who all appreciate good food as much as I do. Chef Michael White is our hero!

Ristorante Morini: 1167 Madison Avenue (at East 86th Street)

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Royal Blush (stolichnaya vodka, lime, mint, morello cherry, prosecco)

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TONNO (bigeye tuna, shaved radish, blood orange, bottarga di muggine, tonnato)

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RICCIOLA (marinated amberjack, artichoke, sturgeon caviar, wild oregano)

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AGNOLOTTI (beef shank parcels, celery root, brasato sugo)

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TORTELLI (Maine lobster ravioli, seppia, crustacean brodetto)

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FERRATINI (alla carbonara, guanciale, egg, pecorino, scallion)

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BRASATO (red wine braised short rib, heirloom polenta, cavolo nero, hazelnut gremolata)

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SORBETTI (grapefruit & prosecco, apple cider, pistachio stracciatella)

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FIORENTINA (chocolate crema, chocolate biscotto, fior di latte gelato)

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TORTA AL FORMAGGIO (cresenza cheesecake, pane di spezie, grapefruit prosecco sorbetto)

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The upstairs dining room

Ristorante Morini

Nicoletta

After finishing an amazing dinner at Sushi Nakazawa, we were in the mood for a midnight snack. I mean, raw fish can only fill you up so much. We all love Nicoletta so we decided to head on over for some gelato… which turned into two whole pies and a bottle of Lambrusco. SECOND DINNER! 😉  We housed everything except for two slices of the special pizza of the night: Meatball Parm. It was so good. I even got an Italian Wedding Soup to go (it’s my very favorite Italian wedding soup and I order it every time I’m there). The perfect end to a delicious evening of foodie fun. Second dinners rock!

Nicoletta: 160 Second Avenue (at East 10th Street)

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Love this Lambrusco!

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(top): Special Pizza of the night: MEATBALL PARM 
(below): CLASSICA (pomodoro, whole milk mozzarella, aged parmesan, fresh basil)

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ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP (chicken broth, mini meatballs, ditalini pasta, sauteed spinach, parmesan)

Nicoletta

The Butterfly

Chef Michael White has opened a new restaurant in Tribeca that deviates from his usual Italian fare. The Butterfly, described as a cocktail bar and supper club, is actually named after The Butterfly Club in Chef Michael’s hometown of Beloit, Wisconsin. It features creative cocktails by mixologist, Eben Freeman and classic American dishes like patty melts, BLTs, and fried chicken — with a twist, of course. I’m neither a vodka drinker nor a fan of cocktails, but I really enjoyed the Royal Blush — a delicious blend of Stoli, muddled cherries, lime juice, mint, and topped with prosecco. My friends and I are all big fans of Chef Michael and we wanted to try a bunch of different dishes. We ordered up a storm, including the fried cheese curds (how can you not love fried cheese?), biscuits & honey butter (I could eat this all night long), smoked whitefish mousse (one of our collective favorites), zucchini blini (I love every component of this dish), Butterfly patty melt (insanely good), and baked ricotta ravioli (Chef Michael’s pastas are always fantastic). Our meal ended on a high note with a creative dessert called Coppa Cola with Coca-Cola ice cream, caramel corn, and whiskey cream. Yum! Overall, I found the food at The Butterfly to be really comforting and delicious. I’ll be back for sure!

The Butterfly: 225 West Broadway (between White and Franklin)

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Royal Blush cocktail: Stoli vodka, fresh lime juice, mint, muddled sugar cherries, and topped with prosecco

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Fried Cheese Curds

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Biscuits & Honey Butter 

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Smoked Whitefish Mousse with roasted garlic, pickled celery, fried capers, toasted baguette

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Smoked Whitefish Mousse with roasted garlic, pickled celery, fried capers, toasted baguette

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Zucchini Blini with creme fraiche, shallot, dill, trout roe

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Butterfly Patty Melt (dry-aged beef patty, fried onions, Swiss & American cheese, caraway rye)

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Coppa Cola (Coca-Cola ice cream, caramel popcorn, whiskey cream, amarena cherries)

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The dining room

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Love the cocktail menu!

The Butterfly

Costata

Bone-in rib-eyes are the reason I wake up in the morning. When I heard that one of my favorite chefs, Michael White, was opening a new restaurant named after my favorite cut of beef (Costata means “rib-eye” in Italian), I couldn’t believe my luck! I was ecstatic. :)  My meal began with a few fresh oysters and an amazing entree-sized pasta, Garganelli alla Fiamma with peas, prosciutto, and truffle cream. My actual entree: The Costata, of course! Forty four glorious ounces of tomahawk rib-eye for two… it was a beautiful sight. Crispy seared crust on the outside, perfectly cooked medium rare meaty goodness on the inside. We had our choice of sauces and butters for the steak — we went with bearnaise and truffle butter, but to be honest, I barely touched them. The meat was so flavorful, tender, and juicy, I wanted to savor it in it’s purest state. What happened to the bone, you ask? You better believe I had that puppy wrapped up to take home, with the intent of frying it up with some eggs and white rice the next day. A huge thanks to my awesome aunt and uncle for such an incredibly delicious dinner!

Costata: 206 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson) 

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East Beach Blonde, Naked Cowboy, Hurricane Island, Kusshi, and Luna Lagoon Oysters

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GARGANELLI ALLA FIAMMA (with prosciutto, peas, truffle cream)

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The COSTATA (44oz Tomahawk Ribeye)

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Beautiful slices of the Costata

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Truffle butter and Bearnaise sauce

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Baby carrots

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Affogato (freshly brewed espresso, ramazzotti amaro, fior di latte gelato)

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Took home the bone!

Costata

Ai Fiori

Ai Fiori has officially become one of my top three favorite restaurants of all time. I went back for the third time since February, and it was just as memorable as ever. The Vellutata and Trofie Nero are the two must-order dishes for me and my bf — we are obsessed with them! They are consistently amazing. Great service and fantastic food — that’s what makes me a die hard Ai Fiori fan for life!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Amuse bouche (whipped egg with pickled ramps and breadcrumbs)

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Special: (Spanish Mackerel Crudo, radish, caramelized onions)

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Vellutata (lobster soup, périgord black truffles, chervil)

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Trofie Nero (ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica)

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Astice (butter poached nova scotia lobster, asparagus, morels, château chalon sauce)

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Birthday dessert!

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Petits Fours

Ai Fiori

Osteria Morini

Anyone who knows me is aware of my huge affinity for Chef Michael White’s homemade pasta. To my delight, I recently became acquainted with a fellow food lover who is equally as enamored with Chef White. Together we indulged in some of the best pasta dishes around at Osteria Morini in SoHo. Our favorite of the night: the Cappelletti, an incredibly rich and savory truffled ricotta ravioli with melted butter and prosciutto. Beyond amazing! Then there was the Gnocchi with pomodoro and speck, the Farfalle with prosciutto and spring onion ragu, and the Tagliatelle with ragu antica (a winning combination of beef, pork, veal, and chicken livers). All were sensational. Oh, and we had to throw in some sliced Italian meats to start (prosciutto di parma and speck), as well as few glasses of Lambrusco (one of my favorite wines). Just another amazing Monday night meal!

Osteria Morini: 218 Lafayette Street (between Spring and Broome)

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Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro “Gibe”, Tenuta Pederzana (Emilia Romagna)

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Prosciutto di Parma, Speck, and Castelrosso cheese

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Prosciutto di Parma (24 month)

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CAPPELLETTI (truffled ricotta ravioli, melted butter, prosciutto)

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GNOCCHI (ricotta dumplings, pomodoro, speck)

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FARFALLE (bow tie pasta, prosciutto and spring onion ragu)

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TAGLIATELLE (ragù antica, parmigiano)

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Lambruschi flight: Lambrusco di Salamino, Lambrusco di Grasparossa,  Lambrusco Maestri

Osteria Morini

Ai Fiori

Back at Ai Fiori for the second time in two weeks! This time we were celebrating a milestone birthday for a dear foodie friend. I was thrilled to finally be reunited with my beloved Vellutata… and it was every bit as glorious as I remembered it. Rich, savory, and luxurious — lobster soup at its finest! Another outstanding dish was the Trofie Nero (black squid ink pasta). I’ve never been a big fan of squid ink, but this homemade pasta with fresh seafood and crunchy crumbs was INCREDIBLE! I think I just discovered my new favorite pasta. Move over, Tortelli! (Just kidding. I still love you.) Continuing with the lobster theme, I went with the Astice as my entree, which was fantastic (I tried it last year and loved it). Time after time, the food at Ai Fiori continues to wow me. It is both elegant and comforting — a hard balance to achieve, but Chef Michael White makes it seem effortless. His homemade pastas and soups are simply the best!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Vellutata (lobster soup, Périgord black truffles, chervil) — this picture does not do it justice. It is amazing!

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Trofie Nero (Ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica)

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Astice (butter poached Nova Scotia lobster, glazed root vegetables, Nebrodini mushrooms, Château Chalon sauce)

Ai Fiori