Image: Pasta with lots of goodies included.
Last Updated: July 2023
You might hear “buonasera” more than once as you enter Morgana. The project of three Italians who make you feel like you are stepping into Lonely Planet-recommended spot in Rome. The menu is heavy on snacks and appetizers to match the large bar on the ground floor that locals have already taken a shine to. Packed into an old building in Adams Morgan, the first floor chatter wafts up to the second floor main dining area with packed-in tables. A few more tables are available out front under a covered patio.
Some of the appetizers can border on small mains like the cubed swordfish with tomatoes, or the plate of burrata and mushrooms. Charcuterie and other cheeses are available. Matching the budget and eating habits of the neighborhood there are several pasta options all coming in under $30. It starts with a slightly thicker take on spaghetti, spaghettoni di gragnano, with a choice of puttanesca, carbonara, or cacio e pepe sauce. The ziti alla Genovese is a very thick meat sauce that is more like shredded beef and pasta than what you might expect, but it is also very tasty with deeply cooked meat and a hint of sweetness. In contrast, other pasta dishes pull together multiple disparate elements to make something surprisingly good like the eggplant option with mussels, mint, cherry tomatoes, Calabrian peppers, and burrata stracciatella.
The mains are fewer (four on our last visit) and two of them vegetarian, one meat option and one fish. The eggplant stuffed with angel hair pasta (kinda making it another pasta dish) was both surprising and tasty with a classic red sauce and a crisp of Parmesan on top.
For desserts the ricotta soufflé is more like a ricotta semifreddo. The showstopper, especially if you watch it being prepared at the bar, is the rhum baba’ flambé.
As noted above, the bar is central to the spot with a deep list of spirits and cocktail options. The wine list reflects the menu with traditional options mixed in with some more interesting choices.
Other Guidance: The bar and tables are on the first floor at street level. But most of the dining room is upstairs. Vegetarians can do well. The pasta emphasis restricts GF options, but the many apps give you something to work with.
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