EDITOR’S UPDATE:
Morsi & Sorsi has since ceased its operations

Fans of chef Lino Sauro’s contemporary Italian and Mediterranean cuisine at fine dining restaurant Gattopardo now have another alternative to try out his creations in a more casual context.

Morsi & Sorsi is a new establishment run by a team trained at Gattopardo, serving a wide variety of traditional Italian street food favourites known as Stuzzichini. The inspiration for this store came about after Sauro’s recent trip to Italy during the summer, where he saw the same concept at the airport.

Chef Lino Sauro

Chef Lino Sauro

Affordable fresh bites are the mantra here at Morsi & Sorsi: with prices mostly under $15 per plate and some produce made in-store or specially brought in from Italy (their selection of beers deserve special mention for this), this outlet could fill up a space in the market for well-priced and fuss-free quality nosh for the business crowd.

Among the 14 dishes we sampled from the store, some stood out from the pack. Take for instance, the organic quinoa salad with fresh vegetables and toasted almonds ($12). With the perfect mix of savoury crunch, the slivers of almonds compliment the dressing nicely. The quinoa is generous and served fresh: none of that pre-made staleness one can feel with salads typically served in dining establishments.

DECOR BY BOTTLE: A staffer told us that this light fixture on the left wall of the store was done by hand with specific bottles, most of them coming from Italian breweries. Bottle neck size was a key consideration in order to fit the light bulbs into the bottle without it dropping. He said the store may change bottles to display in the future.

DECOR BY BOTTLE: A staffer told us that this light fixture on the left wall of the store was done by hand with specific bottles, most of them coming from Italian breweries. Bottle neck size was a key consideration in order to fit the light bulbs into the bottle without it dropping. He said the store may change bottles to display in the future.

Savoury goodness also runs in the selection of paninis ($13, served all-day, of course). The piadina combines rucola, parma ham, truffle sauce and tomatoes, covered by a thick layer of melted mozzarella. The potent (read: bitter) combination of radicchio and tapenade makes the Focaccia EVOO one to get. The bread is made in-house. For the vinnese, the bread comes straight from Vienna. Nifty.

In mains, the cured fish carpaccio ($18) is Morsi & Sorsi’s seasonal offering. Sauro tells us that the fish served will depend on what is in season: its current roster includes tuna and smoked salmon. The vitello tonnato ($14) made up of sliced veal and capers in a sauce of tuna and mayonnaise is perfect for those pick-me-on-a-platter moments. Don’t be shy of the capers: those small sour fruits make this dish.

However, certain traditional mainstays delivered despite the variety of experiments on offer. The sous-vide beef cheek with mashed potato ($18) is in every sense of the word, delectable. The beef cheek is stewed to perfection, tender and moist. The eggplant parmigiana ($10) is a comfortable meld of eggplant and cheese — very much like comfort food. The homemade baked beef lasagna ($13) may go a bit overboard on the cheese, but one can still decipher the layers of cheese and ground beef with each bite. That is the hallmark of Italian comfort food.

Homemade Vegetarian Lasagna

Homemade Vegetarian Lasagna

What was a real letdown were the more Western-like offerings. The breakfast set ($12) consisting eggs, cheese, bacon and sausage pales in comparison to other scrumptious offerings we have had elsewhere. The same is unfortunately true for the sweet pancakes ($6, breakfast menu) with banana slices and Nutella spread. Although the crepe is springy and light, Nutella lovers won’t get their fix with such a thin layer of the hazelnut goodness.

Morsi & Sorsi could provide some real competition in the casual dining scene along the CBD. With its fresh, authentic produce and fast yet quality bites, the establishment’s comfortable price point and upscale atmosphere is a winner for a quick lunch fix or high-tea sesh. Just don’t expect to have much quality conversation if you prefer ditching the alfresco seating: the U-shaped bar in the store looks pretty much like a conversation for one, unless you fancy chatting up the staff.

Morsi & Sorsi is located at 51 Telok Ayer Street (China Square Food Centre). It opens Monday to Friday, 8am to 8.30pm.

Photos: Morsi & Sorsi via Right Hook