Magazine article The New Yorker

MORANDI; Tables for Two

Magazine article The New Yorker

MORANDI; Tables for Two

Article excerpt

Keith McNally, the progenitor and reigning monarch of the imitative brasserie (Odeon, Balthazar, Pastis), has long been a master calibrator of cultural appropriation. Synthetic Frenchness comes naturally to him. Now comes Morandi, his attempt at fasullo italiano. Amid all the simulacra--the editions of Corriere della Sera hanging near the door, the rows of Chianti bottles lining the walls--the one key ingredient that seems to be missing is the artful artlessness known as sprezzatura. Contrivance is everywhere. Still, the room's neo-rustic ambience--low ceilings, lots of distressed wood and brick, plain tables jammed in tight--is alluring, and an agreeable counterpoint to the cheek-to-jowling of the cosmopolitan clientele. It's the kind of place where you may overhear a slick almost recognizable fellow saying to a young beauty, "I want to go apple picking with you." So what if it's April?

The fare is pan-Italian, your trattorian all-star team. The chef is Jody Williams, formerly of Gusto, around the corner, and she has brought along some of her mainstays, such as lightly fried artichokes, the Sicilian-style meatballs with pine nuts and raisins, and the fried pork-stuffed olives. …

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