The Capitol Riverfront area has grown significantly since New York restaurateur Michael White opened a branch of his SoHo osteria there two years ago, though it’s far from fully developed. No matter—Morini possesses the spirit of a full-fledged neighborhood Italian joint. Groups crowd the bar for superb cheese and charcuterie, while the window-wrapped dining room is the place to tuck into executive chef Matt Adler’s robust cooking from the Emilia-Romagna region. Spring for the shareable antipasti—mortadella meatballs are a classic for a reason—though it pays to be selfish when it comes to fresh pastas such as butternut-squash-stuffed pillows with braised-lamb ragu. Homing in on the carbs often yields maximum enjoyment, especially when you include pastry chef Alex Levin’s fabulous desserts or weekend-brunch pastry basket, filled with warm Danish and speck-flecked brioche.
Don’t miss: Crostini with smoked-trout, chickpea, and Parmesan “gelato” spreads; grilled octopus; truffled ricotta ravioli; gramigna carbonara; seafood soup; pine-nut/pistachio tartlet; cinnamon rice pudding with butterscotch cream.