If there’s a slight rolling, slicing, crinkling sound coming from the Sunset stretch of Silver Lake soon, do not be alarmed: It’s just stacks of tinned fish being opened simultaneously inside new Spanish restaurant and drink spot Bar Moruno, which debuts this weekend. The metallic symphony is cause for celebration because it means that one of Los Angeles’s more beloved bygone restaurants has returned after five years of slumber. This is the new Bar Moruno, all class, color, and wood-fired meats. It’s a summer abroad on the Iberian Peninsula, just steps from the Sunset sidewalk.
Calling Spanish food and fine vermouths a passion project of owners David Rosoff and Chris Feldmeier would be a disservice to the two longtime friends and collaborators. This new Moruno feels like an imperative first fused during their time at LA’s vaunted Campanile and later at Osteria Mozza. Together, they have plotted and planned for the kind of everyday Spanish restaurant they longed to have in their own backyard, while simultaneously cementing their solo LA legacies — Feldmeier as a foremost manifester of fire, Rosoff as a grinning, thoughtful wine savant. For years the pair have remained close, pushing through the too-quick closure of their first Moruno iteration to land eventually in Silver Lake, in this energetic restaurant reopening moment of 2022.
Bar Moruno, once again, is here.
As with the former Kettle Black that previously inhabited this tall, tiled space, all eyes at dinnertime will focus on the wood-fired oven in the back right corner. There Feldmeier and his team, including sous chefs Leigha Olson and Kelly Bangco, plan to bring heat and smoke to roasted salt spring mussels with butter beans and chorizo cantimpalo, or crispy hen of the woods mushrooms with fried egg and loads of garlic. Moruno’s popular butternut squash, crispy at the skin and soft inside with a wash of cashews, sesame seeds, and sumac, has returned. And it comes alongside rich, meaty mains and simple Spanish tortillas finished among the coals.
The best seats to catch the sizzle and pop of wood is right up close at the cement bar that looks into the smaller back kitchen. For everyone else, there’s the long, colorful Studio UNLTD-designed dining room draped in deep greens and pale yellows. Banquette seating runs the length of the room’s eastern edge, glowing beneath vintage art and design work, plus a few funky mirrors that give the room more depth. Two-tops hug the low wall that separates the dining room from the soaring bar, where emerald velvet stools soften all the dark wood and shining brass. For conservas and sherry — and lots of chatter — it’s best to find a seat at the bar, with Dave Kupchinsky (Eveleigh, Petit Ermitage) making martinis, gin and tonics, and old fashioneds made with iberico ham-washed bourbon.
Working the room are general manager Jenny Jordan and Rosoff himself, who will spend time pouring splashes of Vermina (a vermouth he made alongside Central Coast winemaker Steve Clifton) and pointing out the latest crisp European whites or deeper reds to pair with Feldmeier’s food. Upstairs is the private dining table for wine dinners and special occasions, but the action for Rosoff and Feldmeier and the team is really down at the floor level, touching tables and talking trade. It’s an elegant vision of spinning plates and happy laughter that has led the two from Mozza to the Mediterranean, to this Spanish restaurant on this corner of Sunset Boulevard in this city.
Their dream, in that way, is the city’s dream: to be lucky enough to get to be passionate in one’s personal pursuits. To love what you do, and to have others love you for it. They get to serve great food in a town that knows how to eat and to follow that passion to the finish line and, now, beyond. LA is filled with people like Rosoff and Feldmeier who care deeply about feeding and serving. Los Angeles, in turn, is ready.
The new Bar Moruno opens today, Wednesday, March 23 at 3705 Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, with service from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, and an extension to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights (closed Mondays).