The news for Pittsburgh’s vibrant food scene keeps getting better. Morcilla, Justin Severino’s Lawrenceville-based Spanish-influenced restaurant, has made Bon Appétit’s list of America’s Best New Restaurants for 2016, ranking at an impressive #4 in the magazine’s widely-regarded annual feature of the “Hot 10.”
It’s not the first time the local chef has been given high praise by Bon Appétit—Cure made their 50 Best New Restaurants list in 2012 and in a teaser to this list, Morcilla made the top 50 best new restaurants earlier this month, along with Whitfield at the Ace Hotel.
But this latest accolade, along with what can only be described as a glowing article, is much more. BA’s Deputy Editor, Andrew Knowlton, serves up generous praise for both Morcilla’s Basque inspirations and the chef himself: “Next time I go to Morcilla, I’m rounding up as many friends as I can find, taking over the bar and ordering one of everything on the 30-plus-item menu. We’re going to eat and drink and party like only the Basque can. Then we’re going to hoist Severino on our shoulders like he’s Steelers legend Franco Harris in 1972. Yeah, America, he’s that awesome.”
Knowlton announced the selections for the Best New Restaurants 2016 during a segment on last week’s CBS This Morning. He talked to the news panel about the task of navigating an overwhelming list of restaurant contenders and how he puts his list together. “There’s no objective criteria, there’s no secret formula—the way I find the places I go to is just like any old newspaper reporter. You have your sources in each city. They can’t tell me where to go or where not to go but if I hear mixed reviews, I’ll just pop in and check it out myself.”
The long-time Bon Appétit editor also described the sometimes gut-busting pain involved in simply eating all that food. He has to taste everything himself and experience it himself before he can write about it. “That’s why I don’t do this job from New York. I have to go to those cities and try it for myself. Otherwise, I could just read whatever you know and just fake it, but that’s not what we do. I want to find people who are really living out their dream and prop them up. It can easily make or break a restaurant and that means a lot. That’s why I take my job so seriously and that’s why I eat seven meals a day because I don’t want to miss something.”
When CBS’ Gayle King asked Andrew Knowlton how he can eat all this food and not gain a ton of weight, he replied that it’s a long, careful process. “Thank God for bike share programs in almost every major city now because I can ride from place to place and that helps.”
The dining experience at Morcilla and the gastronomic influences at work are described in the article as “a love letter to the pintxos-eating, cider-drinking, fiercely independent of northern Spain. No matter what’s on the menu—chorizo, morcilla, cecina—it will probably be unforgettable. Even the chef’s classic egg tortilla, a dish by which all Spanish restaurants should be judged, comes out firm but still creamy on the inside.”
If you’re thinking all this buzz will make it harder than ever to get a reservation, you might be wrong. A quick check today shows many good options still available for this week. Maybe it’s a good time to conjure some of the fun and delicious dishes Bon Appétit is raving about. Don’t forget the cocktails—it seems like they might be up for an article of their own.
Read the entire article in Bon Appétit.