Friday, December 6, 2013

Morini Istanbul: Newcomer to Istanbul at Zorlu Center

Dear readers,

I don't know about you, but until a couple of months ago, I never would have thought that I would go to a shopping mall for the sole purpose of dining out! Sure, I would usually have a meal when I went to a mall, but it was never my sole purpose.

My attitude changed with the opening of Zorlu Center, which to my utter delight  is a mere 4-5 minute walk from my apartment! Somewhat similar to Kanyon (the totally 'open' air mall in Levent), all the restaurants (fast food eateries on the lower level enclosed area) are located on the 'outdoor' section of Zorlu and are surrounded by the poshest shops (Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Dior, Stella McCartney and so on) and run the gambit from "casual/family style (Jamie's Italian), comfort food (Tom's Kitchen), and fine-dining (Morini Istanbul, Parle) to meats and kebabs (Günaydın Steakhouse, Köşebaşı) and seafood (Balıkev) to Chinese (Dragon - to open soon) and a combo gourmet market/multi-eateries (Eataly - to open 2nd week of December), not to mention a "still secret" totally new concept restaurant that will open in January by the owner of the ever-popular Lucca in Bebek. So, now do you see why I changed my attitude?   

Zorlu "officially" opened on October 10, 2013, however there are still a few restaurants and some retailers (i.e. Apple Store) that have yet to open up shop, but I can say that the majority of retailers and restaurants are now open. 

On the opening day, I went to have a meal that the first and only restaurant open on opening day - Morini Istanbul!

Morini Istanbul is located at Beymen Department Store with indoor and outdoor dining areas. Compared to the other restaurants at Zorlu, Morini is smaller. The indoor area is smartly designed (couldn't take pics as I didn't want to bother diners) and the outdoor area is a bit more casual.

Just some background.... Osteria Morini opened in NYC in 2010 and is part of the Altamarea Group with the highly talented, award winning mid-western chef Michael White at the helm... His current Turkish partners were so impressed with his cuisine that they persuaded Chef White to open a branch in Istanbul. The story of Morini and the other restaurants in the group are quite interesting and I advise you visit their website for more information ( 

Back to Morini Istanbul... as you can imagine, the first day of the opening of the mall was pretty chaotic and I was surprised I was even able to get a table at Morini (outside), but then again I went late in the afternoon...

The opening day of a restaurant is not the best time to make judgments about the food and service. Although there was some confusion with the service and extra waiting time to be served, I can on the other hand say that it was definitely worth the wait! In fact, they didn't even have a wine list yet... Of course all this has changed and I think they have one of the better wine lists of all the restaurants currently open at Zorlu.

So, what did I have? Well, when you go to Morini - you have to first try their signature dishes which are the pasta dishes! I ordered Garganelli...

This simple and mouthwatering pasta dish is prepared with homemade (all pastas are homemade) pasta quills, ragu di carne and Parmesan cheese. The sauce was incredibly delicious and the pasta al dente (just the way it should be)... In fact, NY Times food critic Sam Sifton listed this dish from Osteria Morini in his list of "Best Dishes in 2010". The menu includes 7 pasta/risotto dishes ranging in price from 32 TL to 40 TL. 

Since my first visit, I stopped by several times for a glass of wine or coffee...

Like I mentioned earlier... Morini's wine list is very impressive with many local and international wines available by the glass as well (starting at around 22 TL/glass).

I finally had a chance to eat at Morini Istanbul again on November 26th... a Tuesday and once again I stopped by for a late lunch... 

This time I was in the mood for soup and ordered pumpkin soup and a "small plate"... roasted peppers; and a glass of Chateau Bellevue red wine.

Both dishes were very good and the pumpkin soup had a nice "kick" to it, but I was totally enthralled by the roasted peppers which were prepared with shishito peppers stuffed with chicken and Parmesan cheese with salmoriglio dressing. I have no idea what this dressing is, but it really added an extra texture to the dish! The soup was 18 TL and the roasted peppers 23 TL. 

Overall... Morini Istanbul is definitely on my list of places to go to for a meal and/or just cocktails or wine. The menu isn't very big: there are 4 "Small Plates", 6 "Appetizers", 4 "Salads", 7 "Pasta and Risotto" 3 "Sides" and 4 "Main Dishes" along with desserts. I didn't get a chance to try their desserts yet or peruse the dessert menu, but I just spoke to a friend who ate at Morini at the beginning of this week and she said the panna cotta and tiramisu are excellent (22 TL and 24 TL)

I highly suggest you make reservations for lunch or dinner.


Stay well,

Zorlu Center
Tel: (0212) 353 67 67

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts, Keep it up & share for all of us. I love your work, Thanks.

    Tours From Istanbul To Cappadocia