If you've been following along for the past year or so, you've no doubt seen Matt Maroni's name mentioned a few dozen times for his work with the pioneering food truck, Gaztro-Wagon. Maroni has become the face of the mobile movement, even helping other trucks get set up and on the road. So, it was a bit of a surprise back in early July, when he announced that his next project, Mörso, would be sit-down restaurant in an actual brick-and-mortar building. How novel is that? (Oh, and don't worry about the Gaztro-Wagon, Maroni claims it's "busier than ever.") Set to open this Tuesday, August 23, Maroni gave us a first look inside the Lincoln Park project, along with a sampling of what you'll be able to eat.
Maroni describes the food as "playful and whimsical," which is refined but still approachable: "My style of cooking is taking something very simple, throwing it against the wall, and putting it back together." The main dining menu doesn't divide dishes into starters and mains, and instead puts everything into six categories: Raw, Shellfish, Offal, Veg, Fish, and Game. Every dish is under $25.
Located in the former Pastaterra space, the first thing one notices about Mörso is how it is split up. Guests will walk up a short flight of stairs onto a long outdoor patio, which faces Armitage Ave. The main dining room is small but open, with high ceilings and an open kitchen on the back wall. Up another flight of stairs is Mörso's lounge, which features a completely different menu of snack food.
Maroni told us that the downstairs is "a little more refined," and is being catered to people that want to "come for dinner and a glass a wine." The upstairs will be more about the drinks, with a late night menu serving "fun bar snack food." The cocktails were created by Matthew Lipsky — called Choo by his friends — who was last seen at The Southern.
If those different two menus weren't enough, Mörso will also serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The brunch menu is a little more playful, with dishes like carrot cake French toast, and "biscuits & gravy" made with quail breast and duck sausage gravy.
Confused about all the different rooms? Well, we have a full slideshow of the space which should clear things up. Check out a sampling of some of the dishes you'll find at Mörso, too. They will begin taking reservations at 2 p.m. this afternoon, and don't forget to look at the three food menus below.
Mörso, 340 West Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614; 773-880-9280