What : The team behind Spanish and North African tapas restaurants Moro and Morito have launched Casa Moro, a private dining room and catering company in Hackney Wick, available for private hire and ticketed events this spring.
Who: Restaurateurs and cookbook writers Sam and Sam Clark – who were introduced to each other in the 90s because they had identical names – run all three Moro and Morito restaurants, having learned the foundations of food technique and philosophy at Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray’s The River Café. At Casa Moro, Morito’s head chef Marianna Leivaditaki and her team take the reins for events. Leivaditaki started her career as a waitress at Moro, later becoming head chef before moving to its sister restaurant Morito.
The vibe: The 50-cover canal side space is a little hard to find, located in the industrial heart of artist-attracting Hackney Wick. Designed by Danish interiors expert Nina Tolstrup, of Studiomama, minimal design features include high ceilings and pale wooden floors, divided by vertical rows of tea lights fixed to muted grey walls. An open kitchen at the back of the room displays the vibrant produce being prepared for the meal. Floor-to-ceiling windows give the room ample natural light, and can also be opened out onto a simple terrace with a fire-pit beside the canal.
The food: Menus can be tailored to suit the type of event being held, with options of tapas to be eaten standing up, or full feasting menus to be shared at the table. Dishes include favourites from Morito and Moro, alongside new creations. Upon arrival, snacks on the terrace include garlicky olives; almonds; and smoked ox tongue with olive oil, black pepper, onion and parsley. More substantial sharing plates include courgette fritters and flowers; charred squid with Andalucian salmorejo; guinea fowl kofte with fried quail eggs and pickled chillies; slow cooked pork cheeks with sour plums; and roasted lamb belly with lemon potatoes and harissa yoghurt. Dessert options comprise cakes in flavours including orange syrup, or yoghurt; cheese fritters with Cretan thyme honey; and Alfonso mangoes.
The drinks: As with the food menu, drinks options can be adapted to suit different types of events. An extensive wine list from Mediterranean vineyards is available, alongside a host of sherries and vermouths. Cocktails can be made with lesser-known ingredients, including an ouzo-based drink with homemade sumac lemonade; and homemade damson gin with sparkling wine.
And another thing: While Casa Moro is available for hire and for ticketed events, its main focus is on outside catering, of which the Clarks have ample experience. The couple have catered for festivals including Wilderness Festival, and big events such as the Frieze Art Fair.