Morso: London’s latest pop-up showcasing Italian food and liquor
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”
Though the infamous Doctor Johnson was speaking of the city as a whole, it’s hard to think he wouldn’t have thought much the same of the capital’s modern food scene. Whether it’s a pop-up, a new opening, an event or a special dinner, London always seems to find new ways to keep us entertained.
Take Morso: a new supper club pop-up. Run by a small team of friendly, food and liquor (all the cocktails are made with grappa, a grape-based Italian pomace brandy) loving Italians, and hosted in the backroom of the always atmospheric Vagabond coffee, it’s the kind of thing that has seen London’s star rise so high in recent years. Bringing together strangers and uniting them over a common love of food seems so easy here, almost effortlessly enjoyable.
Chef Paolo Vernetti’s (formerly of Jamie’s Italian) menu begins with Arancini, Peas and Pecorino Cream. The aranci is nicely cooked, that contrast between crunchy crumb and gooey rice one that never fails to captivate when done well. The flavours are also good, though a little peppery heat or tomato acidity would go a long way to cut through all that richness. The pea and pecorino cream is generously portioned, but we still spy plenty of diners scooping every last rich globule from the pot, which should tell you all that you need to know about this moreish treat.
Organic Egg Yolk Raviolo, with spinach, butter and sage sauce, and a dressing of parmesan, is another classic pairing of flavours. The iron-laden spinach keeps the luxurious elements of the dish from running riot, and our egg yolk is cooked to runny perfection. It could do with being a little smaller (by the end of the five courses, a fair number of guests look as if they might need to roll their way home) but there’s something endearing about the bright-eyed optimism of the portions.
Squid Ink Pappardelle with Crab and Lemon is thick with tangles of brown crab meat, its sauce full of salty sea air. Close your eyes and you could be anywhere along the coast, ready to eat the morning’s haul coming straight off the boat. Fennel and black pepper-crusted Seared Tuna loin, with fregola, courgettes and cannellini beans salad, is just as fresh, the fish beautifully cooked and thinly sliced. It’s tender, delicate and a welcome reminder of why tuna rewards the lightest touch of the pan with unbeatable texture and flavour.
A Potted Tiramisu is a lighthearted end to the meal, the well-known dessert placed into a little tin flower pot and topped with a chocolate “earth”. It draws plenty of smiles from guests, as do the pillowy mounds of cream and marsala-infused sponge beneath. It’s a thick hazelnut shot that really catches our interest, though, spiky with alcohol and nutty sweetness. It’s probably the least traditional part of the whole meal but also the one that attracts us the most.
As the chef becomes more comfortable, he’s sure to bring more of these little touches to garnish what is an already enjoyable base. There’s definite potential here, as well as a great meal, and we’ll be watching with great interest to see just how the Morso supper club continues to evolve, another fine addition to the city that never stands still.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
Morso pop-up is at Vagabond N7, 105 Holloway Rd London N7 8LT. For further information and future events visit the Morso website here.