It's packed late on a weekday night. And those walking in the door still weather a wait —even actors Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts. It's that type of restaurant where you will spot celebrities, where couples try to have a romantic dinner, unsuccessfully (it's just not possible with all the noise), or girls have their night out. That's the scene at Morandi, an Italian restaurant in the West Village, and it fits right into Keith McNally's restaurant répetoire, which also includes Balthazar. Perhaps partly owing to the allure of the buzz, his restaurants, though popular, seem to produce mixed reviews on the food front. That's not so unusual when it can seem like more attention is focused on producing the scene, one where if you're not "somebody" you might expect to be shunned or ignored.
Don't fall into that stereotype with Morandi. Peer beyond the surface and you'll find that there's good food and the service isn't so bad, but for some slowness on account of how busy they are.
The meatballs with pine nuts and raisins were good, but could have used a side of pasta or some carb to accompany them.
Morandi is a surprisingly good value, especially in this part of town. There are even affordable bottles of wine. Go hungry and go for the late dinner, so you can linger and watch the scene.