Morello Italian Bistro in Greenwich, Connecticut has it all; excellent cuisine, an attractive setting, and gracious, attentive service that begins the moment you enter the door. Located on ultra-chic Greenwich Avenue in the heart of upscale boutiques makes it a desirable destination for lunch or weekend brunch with pre or après shopping. In the evening, the Avenue takes on a different persona and the restaurant creates an intimate ambience for its dinner clientele.
Speaking with General Manager James Branigan, Jr. before having dinner at Morello Italian Bistro in late February 2014, we learned that the restaurant opened in 2008 in what was originally a bank. The architecture of this historic landmark is visually stunning with its dramatic tile arch system and domed ceiling designed by Rafael Gustavino, Jr. He used this same tile arch system in the design of the Oyster Bar and The Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal, Carnegie Hall, and Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York, and the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago to name but a few of the interesting spaces Gustavino designed.
General Manager James Branigan, Jr.
After the crash of the 1920s, the bank closed and the space became home to an appliance store. There are black and white photos in the bar of that gorgeous space filled with stoves and other appliances that look decidedly incongruous. The building later became home to two restaurants, followed by Morello Italian Bistro, which made it home in 2008.
Morello Italian Bistro Interior
Interesting art adorns the walls and an artistic chandelier with ivory hand-blown tear drop glass attracts the eye. Dark chocolate textured leather banquettes and beige suede and dark chocolate leather seat chairs flank glowing wood tables accessorized with votive candles in red glass holders.
Morello Italian Bistro - Bar
There is a cozy bar on the first floor with a wrap-around banquette, tables, and bar seating available. In warmer months, the restaurant opens its doors onto the Avenue with limited outdoor seating. There is a dining room on the first floor as well as additional dining on the mezzanine level with views of Greenwich Avenue. We had dinner at the restaurant on a Friday night when the restaurant was bustling with energy, and we enjoyed dinner on the Mezzanine level from our window side table, which was perfect for people watching.
Morello Italian Bistro Interior
Morello Italian Bistro has an interesting selection of hand-crafted signature cocktails using all natural ingredients, and we began our evening with pre-dinner cocktails of the Torino Negrone made with Beefeater Gin, Aperol. Punt e Mes, and finished with prosecco, and the Margarita in Fuoco made with pepper infused tequila, blood orange, lime juice, Solerno, and garnished with a lime wedge that had just the right level of heat to make it interesting.
The menu is extensive, broken into sections, beginning with Per la Tavola, which translates from Italian as "for the table" and we sampled the Cauliflower Fritti with lemon aioli. Lightly breaded, golden, and sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano it was highly addictive and perfect to enjoy with our cocktails.
We continued with a selection from the Antipasti section, with the Beef Carpaccio accompanied by shaved fennel, black truffle purée, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. This dish was truly delectable with a hint of decadence from the truffle purée.
Next, there was the Insalata, a salad of Escarole with hazelnuts, mint, red onion, Pecorino Romano, and sherry-hazelnut dressing to refresh the palate.
Insalata - Escarole with Hazelnuts
From the Pasta e Risotto section, we sampled Morello's Signature Garganelli Bolognese, a hearty dish made with fresh garganelli pasta, tossed with a tomato-meat ragu made with a delicious blend of ground pork, ground veal, and ground beef, and topped with a generous mound of herbed ricotta. Tender pasta in a rich and flavorful sauce enhanced with ricotta made for a very tasty dish. (See the Chefs' Recipe section where Morello Italian Bistro graciously shares the recipe for Morello's Signature Garganelli Bolognese.)
Morello's Signature Garganelli Bolognese
We continued in the Secondi section of the menu with three different selections. We sampled the Roasted Scallops and Caramelized Cauliflower with capers, caper berries, sultanas, and pancetta; the Roasted Halibut in Parchment with corn, carrots, zucchini, and lemon zest; and the Veal Chop Milanese with arugula, tomato, red onion, and lemon.
The scallops were cooked to succulent perfection yielding a golden brown crust that were positioned on caramelized cauliflower, and topped with capers, large caper berries, and sultanas (we opted not to have the pancetta). We loved the interplay of contrasting flavors of the brininess of the capers, with the sweetness of the sultanas, and the scallops.
Cooked in parchment with the vegetables, the halibut was very flavorful and moist with delicious aromas that perfumed the air when we cut into the paper. (See the Chefs' Recipe section where Morello Italian Bistro graciously shares the recipe for the Roasted Halibut in Parchment with corn , carrots, zucchini, and lemon zest.)
Roasted Halibut in Parchment
The restaurant has an extensive wine list created by Wine Director Olivier Flosse which has over 450 different wines from around the world as well as 15 wines by the glass that are perfect for accommodating both "red and white" guests dining together, or for pairing different wines with each course.
For the scallops and the halibut we paired a Chardonnay, Cave de Lugny Macon "Les Charmes" 2012 from Burgundy, France, which had apple and citrus on the nose that continued on the palate that nicely complemented the seafood.
The veal chop was a gorgeous, an enormous portion of tender meat that was butterflied, breaded, cooked to perfection, and topped with arugula, red and yellow grape tomatoes, and red onion, and served with a lemon to add a squeeze of citrus to the salad if desired. For the chop, we paired the Nebbiolo, Barbera Blend, Roca Giovanni, 2011, from Piedmont, Italy, which had a full bodied richness and earthiness on the nose and palate.
From the Contorni (sides) section, we selected the Broccoli Rabe with sliced garlic and the Chickpea Fries. When we saw the Chick Pea Fries on the menu, we had to try them. Our waiter explained that the chef creates dough using cooked chick peas and chick pea flour, then cuts the dough into rectangles, freezes them, and then deep fries them. Lightly salted and accompanied by a spicy dipping sauce, the result was unique, very flavorful, and delicious. We especially liked the contrasting textures of the creamy interior and the crispy exterior. Our immediate thought was that these would be perfect to accompany pre-dinner cocktails at the bar on our next visit to the restaurant.
Dinner would not be complete without making a decadent stop in the Morello Italian Bistro Dolci (desserts) section. We selected three to enjoy, the creamy Panna Cotta made with Greek yogurt and paired with Nebbiolo poached pear, with thyme, and semolina crumbs; the Piastra Biscotto studded with pistachios, fruit, and herbs; and the Bombolini, which were freshly made, still warm doughnuts filled with vanilla pastry cream accompanied by a bowl of dark chocolate sauce to dip the doughnuts for extra indulgent decadence. (See the Chefs' Recipe section where Morello Italian Bistro graciously shares the recipe for Bombolini ).
Dinner at Morello Italian Bistro was molto bene!
Morello Italian Bistro serves Lunch Monday through Friday from 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm; Brunch on Saturday from 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm, and on Sunday from 11:30 am until 4:00 pm. They serve Dinner Monday through Thursday from 4:00 pm until 9:30 pm, Friday and Saturday from 4:00 pm until 10:30 pm, and on Sunday from 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm.
Morello Italian Bistro
Driving time from New York City to Morello Italian Bistro in Greenwich, Connecticut is approximately 1-hour. The restaurant is also easily accessible by train from New York City via Metro-North (www.MTA.info) with travel time under 1-hour. The restaurant is located approximately one-half mile from the train station.
For additional information or to make a reservation, please call the restaurant at +1-203-661-3443 or visit the website: www.MorelloBistro.com.
Read the Chefs' Recipes section where Morello Italian Bistro graciously shares three of their tasty recipes: Morello's Signature Garganelli Bolognese, Roasted Halibut in Parchment, and Bombolini with Dark Chocolate Sauce.
Morello Italian Bistro is part of MARC (Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation), which has four restaurants in the United States: A Voce in New York City, Morello Italian Bistro in Greenwich, Connecticut, Bistro du Midi in Boston, and FPB in New York City; and has four restaurants in London: Morton's, The Greenhouse, Umu, and Cassis Bistro.
Morello Italian Bistro
253 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830
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