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Morcilla Dishes Out Authentic Spanish Tapas


Morcilla, located in Lawrenceville, opened in 2015 to great fanfare. There weren’t many other options for authentic Spanish tapas in Pittsburgh when Justin Severino opened the spot. In 2016, Bon Appétit Magazine ranked Morcilla number four on their national best restaurants list. The hype still hasn’t died down, seven years later. It’s still a challenge to procure a reservation at a reasonable time even three weeks in advance. I managed to snag a spot and invited a friend who had never dined there before to join me.



Salty Pork Bits Charcuteria
Salty Pork Bits Charcuteria

I’ve been to Morcilla several times over the years, and it just keeps getting tastier every time. Morcilla’s menu is mainly composed of snacks and small plates, but there are a few larger dishes on the menu as well. I prefer to stick to the smaller dishes so that the table has more variety. Everything is made to be shared, in true Spanish tapas style. My friend and I started off with the crunchy, warm bread and the Salty Pork Bits charcuteria. Severino also co-owns Salty Pork Bits, which specializes in salami and cured meats. The charcuteria board consists of jamón Serrano, fuet salami, lamb sujuk salami and morcilla iberia. The jamón Serrano is one of my favorites; it’s so luscious that it melts in your mouth. The fuet salami and morcilla iberia are both pork salamis with warm and spicy flavors. The lamb sujuk salami has a similar flavor profile, but the meat itself offers a more earthy flavor. The Goat Rodeo Dairy cheese plate is a great pairing for the charcuteria plate and is composed of four varieties of goat cheese, ranging from soft to hard, from this local farm, located in McCandless, PA. My favorite is the creamy fresh chèvre.



Fried Artichokes
Fried Artichokes

The fried artichokes arrived at our table next. In my opinion, this is one of the best dishes at Morcilla. It is very simple, but well-made. The batter on the outside is crispy and the artichoke is tender on the inside. The anchovy aioli and a squeeze of burnt lemon juice provide some salty and sour contrast to the rich batter. Honestly, I could have at least five orders of these delectable morsels. Alas, Morcilla’s menu is too big (and delicious) to allow myself to do that.


We had our mind set on a few dishes, but when ordering, we asked our server what her favorite dish was. It was something I’d never had before in my many visits: the oxtail montadito. Montaditos are open-faced sandwiches and an essential component of any tapas meal. The braised oxtail was incredibly tender and silky with a strong meaty flavor. The caramelized onion and melty mahón cheese added to the richness of the dish. I couldn’t believe I had never ordered this before. It’s definitely a unique, must-try dish. There’s another montadito on the menu called the Morcilla montadito with Morcilla sausage, manchego béchamel and piquillo piperade, that I’d love to try on my next visit.



Churros
Churros

I always like to mix up my meals with the dishes I order, so we opted for one of Morcilla’s many seafood options, the pulpo a la plancha. The octopus was nicely charred and firm. The sweet potato’s texture contrasted the octopus well. The habanada pepper zhug added a lovely spiciness that enhanced the octopus’ savory flavor.


We only had so much stomach room, so there were a few dishes I love that we didn’t order. The costillas de la Matanza (baby back pork ribs), beef tartare and radicchio and apple salad are all items worth trying when you visit Morcilla.


The churros were a perfect ending to our meal. They were warm and fluffy, coated with cinnamon sugar. The chocolate-hazelnut dipping sauce was decadently rich. We devoured every last bite.


Morcilla is a restaurant I will never tire of, thanks to the diversity of their menu. From seafood to meat to vegetables, everything is full of flavor. While it does take a little prep to land a table there, it’s well worth the trouble.

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