Spanish Sandwiches With a North African Twist Debut at Moruno

Two restaurant industry vets are bringing skewers, sandwiches, and a whole lot more to the Original Farmers Market

It’s a known fact that Los Angeles is a melting pot of delicious foodstuffs from just about every country on the planet. So when something new is introduced, even if it’s similar to something we already know, there’s a good chance food lovers will get caught up in a collective tizzy. When Moruno opens a take-out window at the Original Farmers Market on Friday, owners David Rosoff and Chris Feldmeier certainly hope that happens.

For those new to the the moruno: It’s skewered meat spiced with cumin, paprika, turmeric, and chilies that was popularized in Spain but influenced by North African explorers and traders. The tender chunks of lamb, pork, chicken, or vegetables are simply served with a couple slices of bread, so you take a bite, sop up the juice, and it’s a simple, easy snack. On the surface, these aren’t new to L.A.—but dig deeper and you’ll find that Rosoff and Feldmeier are setting their new concept far apart from the rest.

What’s more novel at Moruno is when the meat is tucked into a baguette with mint, onion and something like horseradish baba ganoush, which is served with the lamb and pork and is all sorts of goodness. The chicken is laced with aioli and Serrano chilies, which add some serious heat after a few bites. These “subMorunos,” which they call them, can easily fuel a few lunches in this town.

The more surprising thing is that the bread comes from Spain. “The baguettes are from a bakery in Navarra,” Rosoff says. “It was the only thing we found that even remotely resembled what we had tried with our pinchos morunos.” All we know is it makes a great sandwich (they sent samples and we were hungry), and it’s easy for grab-and-go, which is the point for now.

Rosoff, who’s like the Kevin Bacon of the food world in L.A. (seriously, ask anyone who’s worked in a professional kitchen here and chances are they’re six degrees away from him), was last general manager at the Mozza compound, running the ship in his suit and tie from the day the Pizzeria opened. Feldmeier was chef de cuisine at the Osteria. When the two left to pursue new projects, they settled on morunos and vermouth, two things that really don’t have a spotlight as much as they should in L.A. After travels through Spain, the skewers, which are popular in tapas bars around the country, seemed like the most plausible thing to bring back.

The plan is to open the more full-service Moruno in the former Short Order space with a casual restaurant on the first floor, and Bar Vermut, which specializes in vermouth, including their own made in conjunction with Palmina Winery on the Central Coast, on the second floor. They’ll also open Bar Moruno, which is similar to this take-out window, at the Grand Central Market later this year.

While all of that is happening, Rosoff and Feldmeier, backed by the Bill Chait supermachine, decided to start serving their skewers and sandwiches out of a window to give L.A. a taste. In addition to the meats, there’s a vegetable skewer with halloumi cheese, sweet potato and crimin mushrooms. Side dishes include curry-spiked gunpowder fries, lentils with basmati rice and yogurt, and house-fermented vegetables. The window, located near Gate 7 at the market, opens on July 31 from 11:30am-2pm. It will serve the lunch crowds through Sunday; find out about extended hours and specials via the Twitter handle.

Moruno, 6333 W. Third St.