Contemporary mediterranean cuisine with a beating heart and their own stylish cocktail lounge / bar directly opposite.
I was very much looking forward to visiting Enoteca 1918 to sample their wonderfully creative menu along with my Mallorquin companion, Damian, as my co-taster. As we made our way along the bustling Calle Fábrica where Enoteca 1918 is situated just off the Avinguda de l’Argentina, the many restaurant terraces were starting to fill up on this warm and balmy September evening. Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by the rather dashing Manuel Caporale, Owner and Manager of Enoteca 1918.
We were offered a great little table inside which proved to be perfect as we benefitted from the comfort of some gentle air conditioning to keep us pleasantly cool. It was also a great spot to absorb the creative energy flowing forth from the kitchen whilst at the same time being able to relax and take in the very pleasing surroundings of the stylish interior. The combination of natural stone and neutral-toned walls along with the modern glass frontage and stainless steel of the open kitchen creates a cosy but cool space. There is a great display of Italian wine bottles on the wall and a visit to the bathroom allowed a peek into the impressive wine cellar at the rear.
Damian and I were more than happy for Manuel to prepare a selection of dishes from his interesting and inspiring menu. As we settled in for an evening that felt full of the promise of culinary creativity, Manuel brought us a wonderfully crisp and fruity bottle of Lugana DOC from the Selva Capuzza estate in Lombardy, Italy. It was a superb accompaniment for the first dish that soon followed which was a beautifully assembled and delicate-tasting Zucchini Tempura with Mango Salsa, served with dramatic effect on a lava-like black rock dish. The wonderfully light and crispy tempura batter was made with squid ink which contrasted superbly with the bright reds and yellows of the mango salsa to create an extremely attractive dish.
Next up, were locally-caught small calamari which were the most tender I have ever eaten and Damian, being a Mallorquin with plenty experience of eating calamari, enthusiastically agreed! These were served in black ink with a rose pepper sauce, the sweetness and aromatic flavour of which complemented the saltiness of the squid ink superbly. Topped with a wonderfully crisp tempura calamar, a scattering of tender sprouting greens and a generous drizzle of fruity Sicilian olive oil, this dish was extremely pleasing on the palate as well as the eye.
With the activity in the kitchen increasing in intensity as more diners ventured onto the terrace and through the doors, it was never once too noisy or intrusive for conversation. It was great watching Manuel being the perfect host whilst keeping a watchful eye and contributing to both the cooking and assembling of the fantastic array of dishes being served. As we sat leisurely anticipating the next offering, both Damian and I noted how professional and hospitable Manuel and his staff were to all who came through the door – even a rather boisterous group of guys that Manuel skilfully managed with great diplomacy and geniality, resulting in them soon settling down to the great looking food they were served.
With just enough of the citrusy, grassy Lugana left to accompany the next dish, our eyes lit up as we were served another gastronomical delight. This dish consisted of four decent sized scallops served on a bed of celery puree topped with a wonderful parmesan crisp and a garnish of passion fruit. The combination of the sweetness of the scallops, the delicate flavour of the celery puree and the light acidity and perfume of the passion fruit was a joyful experience for the taste buds, and once again aesthetically spot on.
By this time the restaurant was in full and fabulous swing with happy conversation, smiling faces and fabulous food in abundance. We relaxed and watched as dishes were served to other diners, and their faces and exclamations of delight were testament to the superb dishes being delivered. At this point, Manuel delighted us with an estofado (stew) of oxtail with crispy shredded potato and truffle oil. Armed with instructions to combine the ingredients before tasting, it proved to be another winner for us both. The oxtail, having been slowly stewed for 4 hours, positively melted in the mouth and had a lovely full flavour. We were presented with another perfectly paired wine; a bold and robust Amarone with a velvety texture which I absolutely loved!
Just when we thought it would be time for dessert, we had an amazing dish of sirloin tacos (small pieces) perfectly cooked and perched on top of a veal marrowbone with oyster mushrooms and fresh truffle! Wow, it not only looked incredible but the flavour combinations and textures of the rare meat and the soft, buttery marrow were outstanding. Served on a wonderful aged wood board with just the right amount of sautéed potatoes, this was a real eye-catching dish for any red meat aficionado. As we washed it down with the excellent Amarone, we had the distinct feeling that eating out doesn’t get much better than this!
To wrap things up on the food front and despite our ever-increasing waistlines, we chose our desserts with Damian opting for the Bronte Sicilian Pistachio ice cream with amaretto and chocolate cookies, and I chose the Apple Pie with vanilla ice cream, which was a wonderful tarte tatin-type affair. Again, these were beautifully served with an eye for detail in every inch and with a good strong espresso to aid the digestion of this veritable feast, this was a meal we were sure to remember.
But, it doesn’t end there! As Manuel proudly escorted us across the now heaving Calle Fábrica, we entered Enoteca 1918’s most recent establishment, Enoteca 1918 Club. This is a really cool bar/cocktail lounge with a club feel to it. You can’t fail to notice all of the well-lit bottles of wine and liqueurs in the window, and the bar inside has an equally impressive display. We were very kindly offered a cocktail from the incredible menu and I chose a refreshing frutas del bosque concoction whilst Damian chose a lusciously smooth coconut and coffee mélange. His was served with delicious roasted coffee beans and mine was an absolute creation of inspiration with an ethereal liquid nitrogen bubble on the top that promptly vanished as it reached my lips – genius and great fun! Inviting and full of great vibe with seating inside and out, this is the perfect place to enjoy a pre-dinner G&T or for a fun night out sampling their fantastic cocktail menu. (Opening hours for the club are 18:00-01:00 Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri, 16:00-02:00 Sat-Sun, and closed on Tuesdays.)
It is clear to see the ardent Italian pride and passion for great food that positively courses through Manuel’s veins, a trait that he has clearly inherited from his father’s family. These roots go back four generations to 1918 when it all started in the Port of Pescara on the Adriatic Sea. The family at that time opened up a humble pensione for fishermen, serving traditional fish dishes from whatever had been caught that day. Always with that infamous Italian fervour for authentic flavours and quality food, the same passion and pride are still very much evident today in both Manuel and his father, Michele, who has owned restaurants on this street for over 20 years. Michele also owns Bianco e Rosso and Bottega di Michele, which he runs with his wife, Marcela, both of which are firm favourites on Calle Fábrica.
It is truly wonderful to see how the family talent and devotion to great food has evolved to create the innovative cuisine that Manuel is now bestowing upon his clientele. There could be no greater tribute to the family’s past, especially to Manuel’s great grandfather, Don Donato Simone, than opening this wonderful restaurant in 2018, exactly one hundred years after the birth of that little pensione on the Adriatic Sea. Manuel is an extremely dedicated and affable restauranteur who pays meticulous detail to every dish that leaves his kitchen and clearly loves what he does, and this shines through in everything served at Enoteca 1918. If you want to experience fantastic service, creative gastronomy and the warmth of true Italian hospitality, be sure to reserve a table now!
Written by Lisa Thompson
Carrer de la Fábrica, 3
T: +34 871 531372