Chef Carlo Lamagna has told Eat Beat that he’s in negotiations to nab a prime spot for his anticipated Filipino restaurant Magna, at 5012 NE 42nd Avenue. That'd be right next to Pizza Jerk. And across the street from Old Salt and Red Sauce. A block from the Spare Room. And two blocks from the upcoming brick-and-mortar incarnation of Maya Lovelace’s Southern charmer Mae, which will anchor a new food hub with plans for a bakery, green grocer, and Community Supported Kitchen from Side Yard Farm & Kitchen. Cully is blowing up—culinarily speaking.
Lamagna, who introduced Clyde Common regulars to the joys of whole fried pig’s feet before departing to focusing on his popular Twisted Filipino pop-up dinners and Magna, already lives in Cully. “Being in my neighborhood is one of the draws, I’ll be less than a half-mile away from work,” he says, afire with plans for a lively, family-friendly restaurant packed with stylized takes on the dishes he grew up with—think Mom’s crab noodles or sticky rice with bone marrow and kalamansi gel. The restaurant will seat around 50 people and serve dinner Tuesday–Saturday, with eventual plans for weekend brunch. He’s aiming to open late spring/early summer.
“I’m excited. I’m [thinking of a] bright, beautiful mural on the wall, the complete opposite of a brooding restaurant. I’m gonna make [Magna] as Filipino as possible. We’re loud and we’re colorful, and I want to try to convey that in a restaurant,” he says, also scheming for live-fire cooking, a throwback to his grandmother’s backyard kitchen in the Philippines.
The menu is made for sharing, with a list of around 15–20 dishes priced according to size: $2 pan de sal dinner rolls served with sweet coco jam butter and fermented fishy bagoong butter or a $4 plate of chicharon with garlic vinegar to big shareable platters of whole fried fish served sweet-sour escabeche-style or that crispy pata (the Clyde pig foot) for up to $26. Ten-dollar plates of pancit bihon, translucent house-made cornstarch noodles tangled with veggies and chicken, are sized big enough for four people to share as a side dish, while crisp-skinned lumpia come 10 for $8 or $9.
Those crab noodles ($17), an homage to Lamagna’s mom’s super-specific method for cooking blue crabs when he was a kid in Detroit, sound like a must-order. The chef makes thick, chewy miki egg noodles from scratch and pairs them with fresh-steamed, handpicked Dungeness crab, house-cured salmon roe, and a heady gingery, garlicky sauce amped up with taba ng talangka, a Filipino paste made from freshwater crab fat.
Lamagna says he plans continue his monthly Twisted Filipino dinners, which highlight a more progressive, modern take on Filipino food, at Magna, too. But the stories of his family and food will be front and center most nights at the restaurant, which was inspired by his father, Wilfredo Lamagna, who died in 2009.
“My dad is the reason I’m opening this restaurant and the inspiration for many of the dishes on the menu,” says Lamagna. “Each dish has a story and each dish is a comfort to me. And, hopefully, a comfort to others.”