“What do you mean you haven’t been to Morito? You’ll love it. Go. Go now.”

This is what a friend once said to me. And now this is what I am saying to you.

It’s easy to become stuck in a rut of what you do on a lazy spare day on a weekend. It’s easy to fall into returning again to local places- where you know what you’re going to get and how you’re going to get home (Jose, Brindisa, I’m looking at you).

But life is too short to eat at the same place every weekend. Even if it is delicious.

In essence I have no decent excuse for why it took us two years to get to Samantha and Sam Moro’s place (and yes, the fact that we haven’t been to the original, big sister restaurant Moro is also a disgrace).

For some reason I’d marked it in my head as a schlep to get to. It’s not. Exmouth Market is a largely pedestrian only thoroughfare in a charmingly leafy part of north/east London. It’s within skipping distance of Sadler’s Wells and their grand dance programming. It’s a ten minute walk from Angel tube station. And it’s just across from Caravan (home to some of the best coffee and breakfast in London).

At 1pm on a Sunday we find the small room half full. There are a couple urban family’s  sitting at the tables for four and six. There are spots available at the burnt orange easy-wipe bar and by the window. We take the window, so we can watch the weather change (welcome to a London summer).

Morito does small plate food done in a way that makes sense. Rather than one or two limpid skewers or skinny towers on plates best sized for dolls, each portion allows for at least four proper bites; some many more. The two sided A4 menu is divided into snacks, specials, things on bread, salads and vegetables, things from the plancha grill and sweets.

The flavours are a courtship between the Middle East and Spain; from jamon on sodden tomato bread and blistered padron peppers, through to cumin and lemon spiced lamb cutlets.

Here are a few things that if they appear on the menu, you would be a fool to miss.

1) Spiced lamb, aubergine, yogurt and pine nuts (£5.50). The lamb is softly shredded and spiced and the aubergine pureed into silk. Meanwhile the blonde pine nuts are like guests who lob into a party, who you realise should never leave.

2) Fried chickpeas with tomato, chilli and coriander salad (£4.50). More fun than crisps or peanuts, fried chickpeas take on a brittle texture that keep calling you back and back. Nestled in the bottom is a fine dice of tomato and chilli for some sweet counterpoint of juice and bright spice.

3) Chicharrones(£5.50); slow-cooked pork that is cooked on the plancha grill until the outside fat crunches under your teeth. It’s seasoned heavily with cumin, but the revelation is the generous squeeze of lemon that is applied just before serving. These chicharrones are less pork scratchings and more a bounty roast pork belly, carved into easily sharable chunks. Do share this. Your cardiologist will thank you.

4) Fried aubergine with chilli, mint and labne.

While Morito does beautiful things to protein, what stood out for me was how sound this place would be for vegetarians. No being short changed with bread and tomato, or potatoes and tomato while their friends tuck into platters of cured meats. Here in many dishes the vegetables become heroes. This is a sterling example; fat discs of aubergine, fried until they’re molten in the centre are topped with marshmallow blobs of yogurt cheese and brightened with mint and chilli. It’s inspired stuff.

5) Malaga raisin ice cream (£4.50)

It would be easy to keep ordering savoury course after savoury course, but if you don’t leave room for a scoop or two of this, you’ll possibly kick yourself. It’s rum and raisin ice cream, that packed a hat bag and eloped to Spain. If the appeal of the ice cream wasn’t enough, it’s drizzled in sticky sherry. It’s cold Christmas pudding.  It’s holidays in the sun. It’s boozily terrific.

There are a few minor quibbles; the stools are narrow- best built for those with petite rears and strong backs. Thankfully there are hooks hidden away under the benches for bags. And while the drinks list includes some delights such as txakoli, the low alcohol, lightly spritzed white wine that most of us inhaled by the litre in San Sebastian, wines are served out of dinky, squat tumblers. They’re wide and flat and remind me terribly of short water glasses you should feel special to drink out of if you managed to get upgraded to Premium Economy.

But that’s real hair splitting stuff.

Morito is fun. The food is light, different and delicious. And I’m furious at myself that it took two years of living in London before I found my way there.

Please don’t make the same mistake as me.

(020) 7278 7007

32 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE
Islington, EC1R 4

  1. That restaurant looks perfect for a place to catch up with friends and socialize – small plates are always so good for sharing

  2. Am a huge Moro fan – the cookbooks, the restaurant, the stall on Exmouth Market where you can get huge flatbreads stuffed with lamb for £5, but i still haven’t been to Morito. The shame! We must rectify this post haste.

  3. Oh how neat! I’ve got the Moro East cookbook and it’s one of my favorites.

  4. Don’t worry, I’m obsessed with the two Moro cookbooks I have and have never been to Moro or Morito. Will go soon though, promise!

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