Words: Snita Pandoria
There’s nothing I love more than a delicious local neighbourhood restaurant, and Morso is exactly that. Located in my old neighbourhood of North West London, Morso is a modern restaurant places to eat in London and bar famed for bringing the fabulous flavours of Italy to our city. They specialise in delicious hand-crafted pasta and small grazing plates which encompass flavours from across the Italian region.
There are two locations of this restaurants in London, Abbey Road and Kensal Rise, and I visited the Kensal Rise branch and was seated in their al fresco dining area at the back of the restaurant. This is a beautiful, yet simply decorated space away from the bustle of the main road. It is also completely covered and well heated, making it weather-proof against the typical British Summer!
The menu at Morso takes inspiration from traditional Italian recipes, whilst also adding a twist of their own. The concise menu is designed to be shared and is broken down into five sections – Vegetarian Bites, Meat, Fish, Fresh Pasta and Dessert. All of the dishes are made using fresh, high quality produce from local suppliers and all the pasta is hand-made, on-site daily, served al-dente as tradition dictates.
As with any good Italian restaurant, Morso has a strong selection of wine to choose from. Yet, they also pride themselves on serving a range of grappa classic cocktails, too. We opted to try the house cocktails, Morso Passion and The Botanist, both of which were refreshing, sharp, and most importantly, strong!
To start our Italian feast, we opted for three starters to share, as recommended by our knowledgeable and friendly Italian waiter. We tried the Arancini, which were crispy and moreish bites of risotto, tomato and mozzarella, served with a well-matched pea and pecorino sauce and wild Italian rocket. We also tried Pomodorini e burrata which was an extremely refreshing dish composed of fresh San Marzano tomatoes, creamy buffalo burrata, sharp and tangy balsamic dressing and tarragon. For our final starter to share, we opted for a meat dish and tried the Lamb Scottadito. This was a delicious, almost traditional English dish, made up of grilled British spring lamb cutlets, mint salsa verde and pangrattato.
Our starters were bursting full of fresh flavours and they had certainly whetted our appetites for the main course. For the main event, we decided to order pasta dishes as we were keen to try their fresh, Italian hand-made pasta. I ordered the Egg yolk Raviolo which arrived with a Clarence Court poached egg in the centre of the raviolo that oozed delicious yolk over the ricotta as I cut into it. This is the first time I had seen such an innovative pasta dish in a restaurant and loved it! The dish was only made up of one heavenly raviolo, yet I could have happily eaten another one or two… We also tried the Maltagliati, a pasta dish created with spicy Calabrian ‘nduja, fennel seeds, British pork sausage, baby spinach and parmigiano reggiano DOP. The sauce in this dish was deep and rich and it was evident that a lot of time and effort had been put into finding the perfect balance of spices and flavours to bring out the best combination.
Finally, we moved onto dessert of which there were four traditional, Italian options. We tried the Tiramisu which arrived disguised as a mint plant! Served in a cute plant pot, with chocolate soil, this dessert was as good as it looked. The alcohol wasn’t an overpowering flavour which can sometimes be the case with tiramisus, instead the sweet marsala wine complimented the dark chocolate to create a well-balanced and scrumptious dish. We also opted to try the Caffe corretto e affogato, made up of espresso coffee, Nardini almond grappa and fior di latte gelato – creating a fantastic end to an impressive meal.
Another thing I was particularly impressed with were the prices, as our three-course meal for two, including a cocktail each cost us just under £80, a very reasonable price for the quality of the dishes. I would add that, although our waiter suggested 2-3 starters to share would be sufficient, the portions of the starters and the mains were on the small side, so for a more substantial meal I’d recommend opting for between 3-4 starters to share.
I’ve found that smaller, local Italian restaurants are often far superior to the ones located more centrally in London, and Morso is the perfect example of this. Offering divine, classic Italian dishes, good knowledgeable service and affordable prices, I’d recommend Morso as your new favourite Italian.