I love everything about this restaurant: the location, the terrace, the food, and especially, the people who created it. Plain and simple. I love it. I could happily leave the review there, but I suspect you’ll want to know why.
The reasons are plentiful. First off, we all know Santa Catalina. I’ve lived, worked and partied here. It’s a place full of buzz and life and yes, noise. The number 4 bus goes hurtling past every few minutes, the bottle bins get emptied, and sometimes you can’t hear yourself think for houses and apartments being reformed. However, we can’t seem to get enough of it. What though, if you just want a place where you can still enjoy the atmosphere, but where you can breathe in the relative quiet. Is this an oxymoron for Santa Cat? Not anymore. Enter the wonderful Ventura Harbor Bar where they have created the perfect mix of tranquillity, fabulous service, and delicious food, all in sight of Placa Puente. It’s quite a feat.
Ventura was launched in July in our post COVID world, by the lovely couple Yari and Jessica, who most of you will know from family businesses A Casa Mia and Ventuno. Wanting to find the perfect blend between the two restaurants, but with more space to let Mama’s cooking reach even more people, Yari and Jessica sat down to research locales, styles and menus. What was born from this brainstorming, was Ventura Harbor Bar.
Set halfway down Carrer de Torrent, home to favourites Namaste and Mojito, this road is quickly becoming a gastronomic destination in its own right, with several other exciting projects opening up in the coming months. But the wonderful thing is that there is not a rivalry between the different venues as each has a distinct style and atmosphere. In fact Yari thinks that is the strength of this location, and has big plans for street festivals, food trucks, live music, and the works, once we are allowed to party like it was 1999 again, and obviously subject to approval. But the ideas are there, and they are inclusive, and this brings me neatly into the second reason why I love Ventura so much. Yari and Jessica. Actually, that’s not quite correct. The Ventura family wouldn’t be complete without mention of Patrizia, Mama of A Casa Mia and mother to Yari, Chicco and Alessio, the latter two who you will find serving up delightful pizzettes and fabulous wine just round the corner on Sant magi at Ventuno Bar. That’s if they aren’t all sat around the comfy leather sofas playing chess, backgammon or a game of pool with their extensive family.
And talking of extended family, I know I say it a lot and maybe it’s because the venues I am lucky enough to go to share the values of the magazine of inclusivity, family and the welcoming of all, but Ventura is no different. I have been saying hi to Yari and his family for the last few years as I would head from home down to the office. I’d then stop for a glass of wine on the way back and over time this has turned into friendship. But it is not with bias that I write these words. I spend a lot of time at Ventura as I just love the vibe there and I am welcomed as if family. It is a calm place where I can both work and play. In fact, yesterday I spent 8 hours working there and even started my novel. That’s only taken 8 years and trying to find somewhere that I wanted to write. Lo and behold it turns out it was Ventura. During those hours I was invited to break bread with the family and share a delicious homemade pasta with them and the newest and cutest arrival to the family, Gracie; big sister Adrianna having headed off for a play date. And this is what I mean. I would have been there regardless, but I was invited to join them. And when you head to Ventura you will likely see the same faces time and again because all are welcomed into this loving establishment, as if into Yari and Jessica’s own back terrace.
So, we’ve covered location and people, but I haven’t told you about the venue itself. It has that chilled vibe that is somewhere between beach bar and restaurant. It wouldn’t look out of place in a location where you could run your fingers through the sand, but equally, it fits perfectly into its more urban home of Santa Cat. There’s a large terrace with awnings to keep the midday sun at bay, but it’s a terrace that will be perfectly placed for those of us who seek out the winter sun. There’s a banqueting table for bigger groups and smaller tables for more intimate and romantic liaisons, or if you simply want to head down with a friend or two. It’s also a space that you can work out of on your own or if you want to come and sit and read a book. The Wi-Fi is fast, and you don’t get strange looks if flying solo! There’s a pool table inside the spacious open plan dining area, plus a dartboard for some traditional pub fun. As previously mentioned, there are also loads of board games for those chillier winter evenings and there is talk of quiz nights on Sundays, as well as several other events during the week.
So far, I think you can understand why I love this place so much, yet I haven’t even gotten around to the food and drinks. Our current favourite wine is the beautiful pale rose called Miracle, which also has the added benefit of doubling as a beautiful candle holder once you have finished with it. There are several apartments and houses over the island with this lovely memento! 🙂 For beer lovers, there is Brooklyn and Carlsberg on tap as well as a vast array of bottled beers. All of your typical cocktails and long drinks are available plus coffees, teas and soft drinks. They are talking to a few speciality baristas about having pop up coffee spots in the mornings, so watch this space if caffeine is your pleasure.
On the day that Anouska, my wonderful photographer, who you all know and love, and I, went in to try a selection of the menu’s offering we were thankfully starving, as we were presented with a veritable smorgasbord of delights. The only shame was that we weren’t able to finish every last bite of them all.
We kicked off with the Tempura Prawns and Avocado, a basket of beautifully crisped delights that are so moreish we have been known to order a second basket straight after. I had never considered tempura avocado before this, but it is something to behold. As for the prawns, those of you who know me know I’m fussy about my prawns and complain of them oftentimes being too fishy (yes, I know!) but these were sweet to taste and had the perfect bite. In other words, my kind of prawn!
Next up is one of my favourite dishes on the menu, the mussels in white wine, with garlic and cherry tomatoes. It is imperative you ask for extra bread and a spoon. Or go the proper Italian way and use one of the shells to finish off the broth which is beyond good. We were then treated to the seriously tasty seafood fritura. Both dishes are specialties of Pescara on the East Coast of Italy where four generations of the family have been involved in the hotel and restaurant business, started by Yari’s Great Great Grandmother.
What followed was what I consider to be one of the signature dishes of the restaurant and something that is pretty difficult to find in Palma. It is that staple of school nights, when you have been good and finished your homework, and your mum and dad fancy a treat themselves. That’s right, Fish and Chips with homemade tartar sauce. It’s fantastic. The fish is juicy, the batter crispy, and washed down with a Rosa Blanca beer, there are few happier places to be.
However, if traditional British fare is not your thing then I urge you to try the final plate that we tasted that day. Mama’s speciality, pasta with shrimps and truffle cream. As Yari sys, it seems like quite a strange combination at first, but it’s actually the perfect mix. It simply works. There are a whole host of other dishes on the menu including the sublime pizzettes that are the perfect size for lunchtime, and I plan to slowly but surely make my way through them all. You are welcome to join!
Ventura is a great venue with an even greater heart. There are some serious plans afoot, from the awesome DJ nights on Thursdays, to the darts competition on Tuesdays and the Wednesday pool tournament. Hopefully when restrictions start to relax again, they will be able to introduce the live music evenings that they feel will be perfect for the balmy evenings, as summer takes its slow Mallorcan journey into Autumn and Winter. And the most exciting thing that is due to make an appearance on the menu soon…. Sunday lunches – with all the trimmings!!! The team is currently working up to introducing this and I cannot think of a better place to hunker down on a Sunday, or any other day of the week, with a Bloody Mary, a roast and good friends, than Ventura Harbor Bar!
By Victoria Pearce
Ventura Harbor Bar
Carrer del Torrent, 5, 07014 Palma, Illes Baleares
Phone: 673 75 80 44