After opening arguably the best new restaurant in NYC last year (Marea), Chef Michael White throws down Soho tonight with the opening of the more casual Osteria Morini. The second part of restaurant's name is a tribute to White’s mentor Gianluigi Morini, the owner and founder of acclaimed restaurant San Domenico in Imola. The first part, Osteria, means a place where the owner “hosts” guests. White can host 98 of 'em at his first downtown restaurant, where he'll be focusing on the "soulful cuisine and convivial spirit" of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

In the near future, Osteria Morini will be open all day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but for now it's only operating during evenings, seven days a week, from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. The breakfast menu will feature a variety of Italian pastries from Executive Pastry Chef Heather Bertinetti like Bombolini, chocolate cream or raspberry-filled doughnuts; Cimbella, citrus glazed bundt cakes with fruit compote; and Scones with pancetta, cippolini, and gorgonzola. The lunch and dinner menus are divided into smaller plates and larger composed platters. But White encourages all diners to begin with a variety of Affettati (sliced meats) like Prosciutto di Parma and Cacciatorini, all served with traditional Ficattola Romagnolo or fry bread.

Pastas start at $16 and include a variety of traditional ragus and stuffed pastas from Emilia-Romagna, such as Ragu Antica, beef, pork and veal ragu with taglietelle and parmigiano. The entrees are meat-centric; options include the Petroniana, veal cutlet, Prosciutto di Parma, truffled cream and buttered spinach; and Carne ai Ferri (simply grilled meats and spit roasts). The overall theme of the restaurant is top-shelf rustic, and many of design elements are reclaimed from an Italian farmhouse from the 1700s; the timbers from the original building line the ceiling, the large cast iron door of the farmhouse is by the entrance, and the doors leading to the restrooms are the original doors from the farmhouse bedrooms. (If you see the farmer's daughter behind those doors, best keep your distance.)

Osteria Morini // 218 Lafayette Street // (212) 965-8777