Improper Bostonian // 2017 Boston's Best
Husband-and-wife team Josh and Jennifer Ziskin hum along with uncommon consistency at their romantic restaurant plopped just outside Brookline Village. The twofloor, brick-lined space, lovely as a Lombard cottage, eschews red-sauce fare in favor of Northern Italian cuisine that is rustic and refined. Think Cornish hen under a brick with mint polenta or mushroom risotto with charred onion gremolata, accompanied by stellar wines poured—thanks to an innovative extraction system that promotes longevity— without uncorking a bottle.
Wine Spectator // 2016 Award of Excellence and 2017 Award of Excellence
La Morra received Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator for featuring “a well-chosen assortment of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style.”
Trip Advisor // 2016 Certificate Excellence
La Morra received a 2016 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor and we’re #3 restaurant in all of Brookline, where people have said, “Always Excellent”, “Simply Superb”, and “The Best of the Best”!
Best in Business // 2016 Best Brookline Italian Restaurant
Each year, in and around the Brookline area, the Brookline Best Businesses Award Program chooses only the best local businesses. The companies chosen exemplify the best of small business; often leading through customer service and community involvement. La Morra is now a part of an exclusive group of small businesses that have achieved this selection.
Boston Magazine // Best Italian Restaurant 2015
Any meal that begins with Josh Ziskin’s tried-and-true cicchetti—bite-size sage leaves dunked in tempura batter and fried with salty anchovies; crisp arancini filled with braised beef and cheese; Tuscan meatballs with porcini and prosciutto—is bound to be a success. Follow these up with a rosy, wood-grilled hanger steak and Ziskin’s signature tagliatelle Bolognese, and you’ll be as befuddled as we are that this Brookline Village hideaway continues to fly under the radar.
The real thing: Five local restaurants that inspire longlasting love
February 11, 2014
“…for another helping of fine Italian cooking, there is La Morra in Brookline. For more than a decade, co-owners Josh and Jen Ziskin have been serving food inspired by their time living in Piemonte— a mountain village called LaMorra, to be exact. (A 2011 fire closed the place for several months, but it reopened strong as ever.) He is the chef; she is the wine director. Sit at the bar in the two-story, brick-lined space and snack on cicchetti, small plates of fried sage leaves with anchovy, pickled vegetables, salt cod with garlic and lemon, and meatballs with porcini and prosciutto. Or settle into a table for housemade pasta— toasted gnocchi with braised oxtail and dates, artichoke-filled agnolotti— and wood-grilled steak, Cornish hen under a brick, or haddock with vegetables and Meyer lemon aioli.”
“Josh Ziskin, executive chef/owner of Brookline Village’s La Morra, couldn’t forget the joy of shopping, cooking and eating in Italy. He and his wife, co-owner and wine director Jen, spent six months in Piedmont in 1997, truffle hunting, sausage making and wine pressing. Ziskin had been in the business one way or another since he was 15. But he had not strayed far from his home in Brookline until the Italy trip.
Five years after that sojourn, he opened La Morra, featuring northern Italian cuisine. But he still wanted to combine his “passion for Italian food and travel.”
Two years ago, he teamed up with Somerville’s DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. (the owner was a college buddy) to offer “very personal itineraries.” The first trip, in 2012, was to Piedmont. A Tuscan tour is planned for this July: “Meet the Butcher, the Baker, the Winemaker!” The cost is about $4,800, with groups limited to 16 people.
On the culinary tour, complete with “breakfast, lunch and dinner and all the wine you can drink,” Ziskin, 43, will guide participants on visits to some of La Morra’s superlative suppliers and vintners, whose methods or provisions can be sampled back in Brookline in dishes like the ribollita.
“With globalization, we’re losing touch with the old style,” Ziskin says. “And we want to keep those ways that worked before machinery, like making the braises, the pasta, the grappa. We bring home that style, and so do our tour guests.”
The 50 Best Restaurants
November 5, 2011
Best of Boston 2005: Neighborhood Restaurant, Brookline
July 13-August 2, 2005
“With its wooden beams and exposed brick interior, La Morra has the feel of a rustic retreat in the Italian Alps (if you ignore the cars roaring by on Route 9). Chef and co-owner Josh Ziskin packs flavor into every plate, from the tapas-size cicchetti (Venetian snacks) to entreés such as the perfectly charred small chicken with pea tendrils and grilled potatoes.”
Named One of America’s Top Italian Restaurants
“After ‘opening with a bang’, this husband-and-wife’ – owned ‘nook’ remains ‘relatively unknown’ outside Brookline Village – but its neighbors hail its ‘refreshingly serious yet unpretentious’ Northern Italian cuisine, particularly the ‘fab small plates’ called cicchetti.”
Read La Morra’s listing in Zagats
Boston’s Best, 2005: Guaranteed Great Meal, Brookline
July 13-August 2, 2005
“Brookline’s no slouch when it comes to great places to eat, but La Morra, which opened in late 2003 outstrips the fierce competition. The husband and wife team of Jennifer and Josh Ziskin – he chefs, she’s front of the house – have staked out their own culinary turf., with a menu that offers traditional Northern Italian cuisine done better than the countless other eateries offering similar fare. With a seasonal menu of wood-grilled meats, fish, and locally farmed vegetables, they’ve benefited from excellent word-of-moth. One thing that La Morra has introduced to Brookline is its delightful cicchetti: These Venetian bar snacks, similar to tapas, are simply the best thing to meet up with a glass of prosecco since Casanova did his thing in dark alleys off the Grand Canal.”
3 stars awarded by food critic Allison Arnett
“Step into La Morra… and you’ll see the relief on diners’ faces. This two-floor restaurant in Brookline Village has a casual, open feeling with a warm patina on the wood tables and chairs and soft tones in colors. It’s antitechno looking, and the ambience matches the unassuming friendliness of the staff.”