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Paris, Rome, Venice, and Barcelona are among the top-visited destinations in Europe. Beyond the Old World, New York City, Toronto and Whistler await shopping, dining and skiing enthusiasts, as well as businessmen and students. Quality accommodation is always in demand, and nowadays travellers have the freedom to choose not only hotels, but also apartment rentals.
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Blog

All That Culinary Jazz

Katya R
Posted April 21, 2015

Recommending an Italian restaurant to those vacationing in Barcelona is slightly strange: a visitor even of two weeks would barely have enough time to get to know the local (Catalan) cuisine let alone other regional specialties like Galician or Basque offerings. Pizza and pasta are hardly difficult to find outside of Spain, right?



Yet what the ingredients are in an Italian restaurant is a bigger question. The pillars of Italian cuisine are fresh Mediterranean vegetables and greens, cheeses, fish and shellfish, meat and poultry, olive oil, rice, flour. If these have to be imported from Italy to make it into your pizza, its price would equal the cost of a three-course meal with wine. Substituting ingredients and adapting recipes to local realities is unavoidable in northern Europe.



The question of “with what” is not as pressing in Barcelona, since locally available vegetables, fish and meat are of the highest quality. The question remaining is “how”. Despite the seeming simplicity of Italian specialties, a successful authentic Italian establishment requires not only a world-class chef, but a person who has internalized the smells, the scents and the tastes of Italian cooking throughout her life.

So if a rare bird like that flew into your city and opened a restaurant there, you'd be amiss not to pay it a visit.


Giuseppe Benestà conforms to all the rigid standards outlined above: he spent his childhood in a restaurant owned by his parents in Armento (Basilicata) – an osteria on the ground floor of their family home. He graduated from the highly regarded culinary schools in Potenza and Florence and gathered experience in a lengthy trip around the world (London, Milan, Los Angeles). In 2007 señor Benestà settled in Barcelona, where three years later he opened a restaurant in Poblenou. ACQUA & SALE is located on Carrer Joncar 17.





The restaurant's name, “Water and Salt”, references the first song of the album recorded in 1998 by Mina and Adriano Celentano. Naturally, the song is about love, not the proper way to boil pasta. You wouldn't hear any Italian pop songs inside the restaurant though – the owner is partial to jazz. Regulars will learn to like it too, since after the second or the third visit it becomes evident that jazz is the ideal music for the restaurant's atmosphere.



Secrets are not kept from guests: freshness and quality of ingredients is the point of pride here. Everything that will eventually make it onto your plate can be examined, touched, sniffed beforehand. The natural answer to any food-related question, like the fattiness of lamb in a dish, for example, is to show you the cut of meat to help you decide if you want to order it.


The menu offers non-residents of Italy an exciting opportunity to broaden their pasta horizons. Not many would know the sight and the taste of fish-stuffed mezzelune with putanesca sauce or buckwheat orecchiette with broccoli and salchicha.


All pasta, desserts and even Limoncello are home- and hand-made by Giuseppe and Co.




Every Sunday, the restaurant invites guests to have brunch accompanied by live music. It is, of course, jazz. Food-wise, you can order from the regular menu or choose a moderately priced prix-fixe option.




To claim that ACQUA & SALE is a cheap restaurant would be incorrect. An average bill here is higher than in most neighbouring places on Rambla del Poblenou. However, the personal presence of the chef in the fully open kitchen, creative plates that he cooks from the freshest ingredients, a cozy and welcoming vibe of the restaurant can't cost peanuts. Certainly, you can appease your post-beach hunger with a hamburger, a pack of chips and a bottle of beer, but aren't we a bit more romantic than this? Giuseppe will attest that the food you eat should not be taken for granted.






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