Justin Severino Sets Opening Date for Morcilla
Severino's much-anticipated second restaurant to open in Lower Lawrenceville this month.
photos by adam milliron courtesy of morcilla
Morcilla, the much-anticipated new restaurant from chef Justin Severino (Cure), will open on Thursday, December 10. The Spanish-influenced tapas spot is located at 3519 Butler Street in Lower Lawrenceville.
Morcilla has a 50-seat dining room and a 10-person, standing room only bar. The menu, overseen by chef de cuisine Nate Hobart, is largely a collection of shareable tapas. Look for pintxos (snacks from the Basque region) like croquetas de jamon, mariscos (seafood) like oysters escabeche with pickled mustard and charred onion, tortilla espanola (Spanish omelettes) and montaditos (small sandwiches served on baguettes). House-cured, Spanish-style charcuteria will also be featured on the menu. There will be nightly, family-style dinner specials as well.
“What I really enjoy about food is the culture from where it comes from, and the history behind it. Every dish, here and at Cure, I want there to be a cultural reference point behind that,” Severino says of his menu planning for Morcilla. “I started the thought process out based on what was traditional and I wanted to expand on it from there”
Severino references a chorizo dish as a way of explaining his process. In Spain, he says, a cured meat plate is just that: a plate with cured meat and perhaps some Marcona almonds. At Morcilla, “I still put my focus into making the chorizo as traditional as I could make it, because that’s the center of the plate,” but then he builds flavor with cabrales (a blue cheese from the Asturias region), dates and vanilla oil.
Co-owner Hillary Prescott Severino oversees the beverage program. The wine list is largely focused on Spain and there is also a collection of sherry and vermouth. I’m particularly excited by the inclusion of Spanish ciders, which are tough to come by. They’re characterized by a dry, funky flavor that’s quite different than the English and American style hard ciders familiar to most people. Look for sangria, vermouth-forward cocktails and house-made tonic drinks, too.
Severino and Prescott Severino spent a couple of weeks in Spain last year to prepare for Morcilla’s opening. “If I was going to cook Spanish food and feel proud about it I needed to go to Spain. Having that experience traveling to different regions was so important. Different parts of the country were occupied by different cultures and that totally influences the regionality of the food. When you have those cultural references and you taste those flavors, you get it in a way that you wouldn’t have if you hadn’t gone there,” Severino says.