When Ristorante Morini opened in 2013 it was decidedly more upscale than its downtown sibling Osteria Morini. White tablecloths replaced the rustic wooden tables, polished silverware and stemmed glasses topped the tables, and the price point was closer to, although slightly lower than, Marea and Ai Fiori, the Altamarea Group's fine dining restaurants. There was a $115 porterhouse steak for two, Osetra royal caviar for $145 a pop, and a selection of crudo costing upwards of $20. But now, in an effort to boost business, chef/owner Michael White and chef Gordon Finn have completely revamped the menu, slashing prices and ditching many of the big ticket items, including all the aforementioned ones. "I want Ristorante Morini to be more of a neighborhood restaurant" White tells Eater "we want people to eat here a few times a week."
In addition to dropping the most expensive items prices have been lowered across the board. The average prices for pastas, for example, has dropped by $1.19. The cheapest pasta option used to be a $24 chitarra (spaghetti pomodoro), and is now $19. The tagliata (NY strip steak) used to cost $46, but is now $42. Nonetheless, portion sizes remain the same, at least according to White. Both cocktails and wines by the glass have also gone down in price, so that a cocktail now costs $14 instead of $16. Not everything has changed however. The tortelli (Maine lobster ravioli) remains priced at $28, and the sogliola (dover sole) still goes for a wallet busting $69, making it the most expensive menu item. Sides remain priced at $11 each.
The prix fixe menu price has also been lowered, down $9 from $84 to $75 for four courses. Across the board, it's possible to eat for less now, and White says he wants Ristorante Morini to be the type of place that you can "walk in on the spur of the moment in casual clothes...more like Convivio," his now-closed Tudor Place restaurant. Whether the lower barrier of entry and more casual nature of the restaurant will be enough to increase traffic remains to be seen. Certainly an average pasta price of just under $25 is not considered a bargain in most neighborhoods. But most neighborhoods are not the Upper East Side.