It’s remarkable how a new restaurant has managed to feel like part of Leytonstone’s social scene within a couple of weeks of opening. Everyone I’ve spoken to since Mora began to emerge on the high street (we do talk to our neighbours here) seems to have been either planning to go to Mora, or has just gone and is desperate to return.
We’re in the second category. Mora opened just before the Easter weekend, and managed to squeeze in a visit on the Monday afternoon as they came to the end of a “crazy” first week of service.
With a grumpy toddler accompanying us, we weren’t able to give the menu a proper sample, but you could happily roam starters of grilled vegetables with balsamic oil, or mixed meats with carasau bread (a thin, crisp Sardinian speciality), before trying, say, sea bream with grilled fennel or linguine with bottarga (another Southern Italian special made with mullet roe).
Time-short, we opted for gnochetti pasta with an Italian sausage and saffron ragu, which admirably balanced the tang of full-bodied tomatoes with a meaty hit so punchy it managed the neat trick of being filling and leaving us wanting more at the same time.
Our chicken breast stuffed with asparagus and speck was also generous in both portion and depth of flavour. Perfectly cooked, and resting on top of a smooth bed of mash that was a triumph (because it managed to taste just so potato-y) the whole dish felt more than a little decadent.
Two simple examples, for sure, but ones easy to get wrong either by a lack of care or too much fussing about with techniques and unnecessary extra ingredients.
Some other observations? They’ve only got space for around 20-30 diners so it’s cosy and unassuming. The plain decor means that the all the attention and focus is on the food, the drink, and the friendly welcome. Fair enough.
In short, it feels like a very reliable (already) neighbourhood Italian and – considering it’s run by two Italians, who live in E11 and who’ve brought decades of industry experience to this local joint – that’s exactly as it should be.
Leytonstone is now the happy host of Carlo and Luca’s ambitions – and a proper, child-free visit for some more serious eating and drinking is firmly at the top of our to-do list. As it should be yours.
Tim Sowula ate anonymously and paid his own way for this review