Last night, I added another furry friend to the list of "special" things I've eaten: rabbit. We celebrated our friend Coco's birthday at Morandi in the West Village on this balmy evening in New York. I originally wanted to eat something lighter, like scallops or sea bass, but my curiousity got the best of me. I ordered Coniglio in umido, marsala-braised rabbit with pancetta over soft polenta ($22). I'm not a squeamish person—the Filipino delicacy balut, after all, is one of my favorite dishes ever and I've never been unnerved by the sight of the half-formed baby duckling. But I have to say that I had to swallow down a gulp when my dish was laid out in front of me, with a crispy fried leg as the centerpiece. It was like a screaming confirmation that, yes, you are indeed eating bunny. Hmm. After a few seconds of hesitation, I took a bite of the leg. Tasted exactly like chicken. Chicken with the skin fried to a perfect crisp and meat cooked to tender juiciness. There were two round portions, a meat loaf of sorts, with rabbit meat circled with pancetta. This preparation tasted more gamy, more like what I expected rabbit to taste like. It was a robust and hearty meal, but it's something I would probably like to have eaten more on a cold winter night. It paired perfectly with the Chianti we had ordered. I could totally imagine enjoying the same meal at an osteria in Tuscany. All in all, a good thing to try but I think I'll steer clear of Bugs' buddies til the weather cools down again.
Where: 211 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014. Tel. (212) 627-7575