Certain restaurants are so talked about it feels like I was born hearing about them. And then when I finally visit, even while some do live up to the hype, part of the wow factor is gone because I’ve had such high expectations since infancy (or, okay, recent months).
La Morra, 48 Boylston St. Brookline, is in another category of restaurants. This category is called ‘This restaurant just blew my mind why have I not heard more about it?’ Although it has been recognized for awards over the years and appeared on Eater Boston’s 38 Essential Restaurants, in January and April, it is not overly discussed. And I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why. Since my expectations weren’t through the roof at the start, they certainly ended that way.
Everything about my visit to La Morra was perfect. I happened to go with a friend of mine who’s worked there for years, but regardless of dining alongside one of the restaurant’s own, the service was great and I could tell everyone from our bartender, to the food runners, to the manager, cared about being there. And as the power duo we were, we devised the precisely perfect plan of attack, which was, um, order everything.
Seriously, this is what happened:
B. Cicchetti (Bar tapas style plates) C. Antipasti – First Course
D. Primi – Second Course
E. Secondi – Main Course
F. Vino Rosso – Red Wine
G. Dolce – Dessert
Basically, we made it though a third of the Alphabet in stages of food. Nicely done, us. And what’s possibly more amazing is that each step stands out on its own. The cocktails were unbelievable. The small plates were uniquely and intensely flavored, the pasta dishes left me wanting to eat them for the rest of my life, and the main dishes were devised to perfection and extremely tasty due to the kitchen’s wood-fired oven that creates a rich, smoky flavor. Run by a husband and wife team, Josh in the kitchen and Jen managing front of the house, they’ve taken inspiration from Northern Italian cuisine and created a little getaway right where Route 9 begins. That’s the one factor working against it, the location, but once you make it there you’re transported way beyond the busy street outside.
A. The bartender, the friendliest woman in the world, creates the whole cocktail list herself and she knows exactly what to do with any ingredient possible. Each drink has many factors working to create its taste, some unique and some familiar, but each drink came together perfectly. The Blackberry Morra was like drinking blackberries through a straw. But really, that’s what was happening.
B. As soon as I tasted the Ciccheti, the small appetizer plates, I knew what I was in for – nothing can beat a place knows what it’s doing in the kitchen and cares passionately for what it does. The two plates pictured at the top were fantastic, as well as the Fried Sage Leaves, which had an Asian taste, and the Polpette, their Tuscan meatballs that have never left the menu.
C. The salads we had for the Antipasti course were sufficient, but definitely overshadowed by the rest of the wonderful food (also their weren’t good so that worked out). I had the Insalata Di Spinaci, with grilled peaches. It was very heavily dressed, so had I eliminated one thing, this would be it. But I would have taken two of anything else to replace it.
D. For the Primi course, both pasta dishes were perfectly cooked and the flavors of the freshest and homemade ingredients left you wanting more and more. My friend had to basically force me to stop eating because of the food that still lay ahead. Ravioli with corn in it? Excuse me, that is brilliant. The corn brodo (broth) was sweet and a bite with the mushrooms and parmesan left you in perfect sweet and savory heaven. I think this first dish was my favorite, but I CAN’T decide on just one.
While a sweet pasta dish has my name written all over it, what got me with the Tagliatelle dish, aside from the flavorful meat, is it’s cooked with foie gras butter. For that reason it was heavy, but my I’m pretty sure it also created a magnetic force with my fork. I couldn’t stop.
E. Now for the main courses. I could have stopped at any point before them and been completely satisfied. But I couldn’t believe that after all the wonderful food I’d had, there were was still more.. The blue fish was cooked exactly the way I would ask in a fish: cripsy and fall off the bone soft, but lacking the bones to fall off of. The corn revisited me in a sweet ragu that also balanced the savory. The herb sauce added yet another unique flavor. Every bite was different.
We also tried the Razor Clam special, and the Steak. Both were enjoyable, but the Blue Fish won the main course battle.
F, G, H. The wine was expertly recommended to us, digestif something new, and do I need to discuss how much I enjoyed the dessert? I had the Gianduja Budino, a soft mouse like cake with espresso caramel sauce, caramelized hazelnuts and a chocolate biscotti crust. For my friend, the Sweet Corn Creme Caramel. Neither I had seen before, both delicious, and both, therefore, indicative of my whole evening at La Morra. There you go, now start talking about it!