MORINI Osteria Romagnola, Long Island, NY With its flagship in Manhattan’s vibrant SoHo neighborhood, Morini brings the authentic cuisine and convivial spirit of Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy to Roosevelt Field in Long Island. Emilia-Romagna is known as the Italian Breadbasket - the birthplace of some of the flavors and ingredients most commonly associated with Italian cuisine worldwide: prosciutto, mortadella, parmigiano, and balsamic vinegar. In Italian, “osteria” means a place where the owner “hosts” guests. So the restaurant design must be convivial and comfortable while also feeling special and a treat. Each Morini restaurant is designed to fit within its given context, yet some aspects are important to continue in order to give the brand continuity and consistency. Morini clients are regulars, and many of the clients will visit one Morini as a local spot and another for a business dinner. The challenge was to evoke the familiar but never feeling like a carbon copy of another favorite Morini. This particular Morini was created inside a one-story 1960s mall complex in Garden City Long Island. The building itself has no architectural charm and the space was a long tall box with lots of exposure. To bring character to the space, different textures were employed. Vintage hand-hewn wooden beams and joists were used in one section as a faux ceiling. Hand-made irregular clay-fired tiles were used near the kitchen. The flooring includes, rich warm wooden wide-plank boards, terracotta tiles in a herringbone pattern and carerra marble pavers surround the bar. In order to address the long space and avoid a feeling of a cafeteria the restaurant is divided into several sections, two of which can function as a private dining room by closing the wooden sliding panels. The separation of the spaces was achieved using screen walls, solid at the base but with wooden window walls above. Using mouth-blown glass these screen walls allow some privacy but also the customer to see action in other areas of the restaurant. A large opening windows was created looking into the kitchen, it is fronted by a custom millwork counter with a marble top and framed with off-white irregular square tiles. This window offers the chefs a place to create some drama, slicing battilardo (cured meats) and making homemade pasta. The entertainment factor for clients is very appealing and helps further link the food and customer experiences. The exterior signage was an important element to the overall restaurant design. As with all restaurants the outside must be inviting and evocative of whats to come, but with a mall as a setting additional elements come into play. Visibility and way finding are also important. Morini already had a beautifully design typeface and color schemes. They had also developed a logo of a hand-drawn rooster. The rooster had been used on menus and promotional material but never before as signage. We explored the idea of how to bring the rooster back to life as a quickly identifiable marker and yet distinctive logo. The wooden "rooster wall" on the exterior was conceived. Perpendicular to the exterior facade - the 10 foot high rooster - is visible as you approach the mall, it also conceals and acts as a barrier for the outdoor seating. It is illuminated at night and makes sure the client can easily locate the main entrance on an otherwise long facade. The rooster was again used in a bronze relief on a wooden wall inside the mall concourse. TEAM | nusla design + Aria Group Architects ENGINEERS | TES Engineering CLIENT | Simon Group LOCATION | Long Island, NY TYPOLOGY | Hospitality, New Construction
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