Grub Around the Grid: Morcilla.

We had a reservation for 8:15p.m. You pretty much need a reservation for Morcilla. My friend who was joiniIMG_0252ng me for dinner is perpetually late, so to his knowledge, the reservation was for 7:30p.m. – it worked like a charm.

We arrived early and eager to see if Morcilla would live up to the hype. The restaurant has made Bon Appetite’s list of America’s Best New Restaurants for 2016, ranking #4 in the magazine’s annual issue of the “Hot 10”.

Much of the credit can be given to the chef of Morcilla and co-owner of Cure, Justin Severino. Three-time James Beard Foundation award nominee for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic and a 2015 and 2014 winner of FOOD & WINE The People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic, Severino is a skilled butcher and wiz of Italian-American cuisine.

IMG_0253It had been a long day and Morcilla is known to make a mean sangria, so sangrias were ordered all around the table. Each of us selected a different flavor – sangria Rojo, sangria Blanca, and sangria Rosado. We passed the drinks around the table and we agreed the Blanca was the winner with the Rosada not far behind. Each sangria was garnished with herbs and citrus and packed a refreshing punch.

Morcilla serves Spanish cuisine in the tapas and small plates fashion that is perfect for sharing. We scanned the list and agreed that each of us should make a selection for all three of us to sample. The chosen were:

CHORIZO
pork salami, pimenton dolce, dates,
cabrales cheese, vanilla

CORDERO EN MORENO
Jamison Farm spiced lamb meatballs, sumac yogurt,
golden raisin and leek escabeche

OXTAIL
caramelized onion, Mahón cheese

IMG_0258
CORDERO EN MORENO.

The chorizo arrived at the table first, but it didn’t last long. Sitting in vanilla, the fatty pieces of salami covered in dates and cheese had a great texture and flavor. It was a small snack, but I’d like it to replace every meat, cheese and wine night I’ve ever had.

IMG_0262
CHURRO DE CANGREJO Y ESTRAGON.

Second was the cordero en moreno or simply put, lamb meatballs. The dish was served with three balls, one for each of us. Draped in golden raisins and leek escabeche and sitting in a sumac yogurt, the dish looked great. I wished the meatballs were a tad larger and they were slightly undercooked, but delicious nonetheless. Each bite I scooped more of the sumac yogurt. I also have to admit that we might have scraped the bowl clean until every last drop of yogurt was gone.

Finally, the oxtail arrived. Made into a paste/pâté like form, the oxtail was spread on garlic bread topped with caramelized onions and Mahon cheese. It was tasty and noted as one of the most popular items on the menu. The montadito was really only a portion size for one; I recommend making the oxtail a one per person item.

After the three dishes, we looked at each other with eyes of hunger. We needed to order more food. Next up, three more plates:

TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA
spanish potato omelette, melted cherry tomato, ramp aioli, pancetta

CHURRO DE CANGREJO Y ESTRAGON
crab and tarragon churro, saffron yogurt, vadouvan curry, lime

COSTILLAS DE LA MATANZA
smoked baby back pork ribs, blistered scallions,
crispy smoked potatoes,
pomegranate sherry caramel, coriander

Up next might have been my favorite item or at least tied with the chorizo. The tortilla esponila was creative, delicious and contained probably some of the best cherry tomatoes I’ve ever had. This dish was great for sharing and the potato omelette was soft and warmed your insides.IMG_0261

Also served at the same time was the churro de cangrejo y estragon – translation: a churro made of crab and tarragon that is dipped into saffron yogurt. I must say, Morcilla has opened my eyes to the capabilities of yogurts and how diverse the dairy food can be. It made for a great dipping sauce.

Lastly, we grazed on the ribs. As recommended by the waitress as “life changing,”we each received two smoked ribs. The meat just fell off the bone and tasted great with the smoked potatoes. I don’t know about IMG_0264“life changing,” but they were pretty darn good.

Finally, our bellies were full – six plates later. We enjoyed many awesome meals, but I would recommend sharing between two and not with three people.

Experience Pittsburgh, One Bite at a Time.

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