Mon-Wed, 8am-11pm; Thu-Fri, 8am-midnight; Sat,10am-midnight; Sun, 10am-11pm
1 at Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq.; A, B, C, D, E, F, M at W. 4th St.-Washington Sq.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Houston St. to 22nd St., Broadway to West St.
At this point in Keith McNally’s impressive career, it probably doesn’t matter where he situates his restaurants. The great franchiser of facile, casually racy Euro-style dining could open a brasserie in the Rockaways and people would still show up in their glittering limousines. Plenty of people are certainly showing up at Morandi, which he opened in 2007. I never glimpsed an empty table during my evening visits (for peace and quiet, go at lunch), and the cramped bar area was always brimming with a sea of expectant faces. Indeed, the room, with its close ceiling and buffed brick walls, seems designed to convey a feeling of busyness and density. Small distressed-wood chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and the walls are lined with thatched bottles of Chianti. Sitting at the tiny wooden tables, everyone tends to hunch forward like guests at some diminutive, Hobbit-size ball. This may not be such a bad thing, since the noise in the room reaches such bedlam levels that to ask your neighbor for the salt, you must yell like a lunatic at the top of your lungs. McNally’s singular contribution to the Zeitgeist is, of course, the faux French brasserie meal, which he helped introduce, in the eighties, at Odeon, then perfected at Balthazar. But Italian food is not news to New Yorkers, and there’s not much on the menu at Morandi that any restaurant hound hasn’t seen a hundred times before. I tended to like the smaller, less complicated items, like the salty fritto misto containing crunchy, fresh head-on shrimp, and the frizzled artichokes served with their stalks, just like in Rome.Ideal Meal
Fried artichokes or fritto misto, octopus with black olives, roasted veal chop, cassata.