Two Restaurants For Classic Dining – Bella Italia and De Quien? Posted on 19 Jan 02:43 , 0 comments
Article by Anna Lowe.
I love a classic restaurant. I love walking into a place that looks, feels and smells great, getting a drink in my hand immediately, choosing from a menu of delicious options, receiving attentive service, a prompt bill, and walking home in tipsy, satisfied good-spirits.
Sometimes in Buenos Aires it feels increasingly hard to find “great new restaurants” because so many of the new ones tend to be not so much restaurants as remedial eating ‘concepts’. Take for example the new ‘parilla 2.0’ on Thames which serves its 70 peso chorizo with fried egg, potatoes and peas (a sort of glorified 1980s English fry-up); 100 peso mollejas with a Colombian twist of arepas and sweetcorn; and beef as a ‘Corte Ahumado’ of intensely smoky meat. All this in room furnished with typical distressed timber and a distractingly huge photo of raw meat in the slaughterhouse.
In order to restore a little balance, I’m going to tell you about two old-school classy restaurants. One has been around over 15 years, the other is brand new…
Bella Italia on Árabe Siria is small and perfectly formed (linen-tableclothed, wooden-floored and with a delightful little tiled patio where those entering can wait without bothering staff or diners). The menu is broad and generous – eleven starters, eighteen pasta/risottos, nine mains with a few ‘off-menu’ options and then a load of salads and beautiful desserts. And the cooking first-class.
At Bella Italia, they start by bringing little bruchetta to nibble on. For a first course, a whole small burrata is just 120 pesos and is a cool, smooth, bulging bubble of milky mozzarella served with basil and tomato. The fried olives are also delicious. Then pasta – yellow and firm and fresh with various cream, buttery or meaty toppings. These are certainly big enough to share. For main dishes I recommend the lamb chops or pork bondiola (which is sweet, tender and full of its own juices). These are served with a choice of little sides such as creamed dauphinoise or rosemary crusted potatoes and immaculate greens – the perfect accessories to plain meats of the highest quality. And if you still have any space at all, the desserts (particularly tiramisu and the chocolate volcano) are sublime, especially with a coffee or cheeky limoncello.
Bella Italia is an old, utterly brilliant Buenos Aires restaurant embracing all the most important principles of Italian cooking in a beautiful space with immaculate service and a good wine list. What more could you want?
My second recommendation for a class-act restaurant is De Quien? This has been open only a couple of months and is run by the ex-manager and waiter of the chic Leopoldo Bar (Palermo Botanico’s regrettable loss in 2014). De Quien? is a smallish place, not too trendy, takes bookings, is quite shiny and fresh (not the usual exposed brickwork) and with charming fairy lights on the ceiling.
The menu is taut and tempting. Simple Argentine favourites but with interesting contemporary twists of creativity. There are starters for around 80 pesos – a ‘porteno’ style ceviche, a fun tasting plate of provoleta cheeses, and a memorable Caesar salad with the perfect balance of key elements and dressing. For the mains (around 150-200 pesos) we had a pork tenderloin and fish of the day. The fish was miraculously soft with a warm cauliflower sauce and a tangy, crunchy apple, rocket and radish salad. The pork was pull-apart slow-cooked and done with sweet potatoes and an apple puree. Tiramisu was presented as the strongest of the desserts and was truly epic, almost like ice-cream, but lighter and with intrusions of fragmented meringue.
Sitting in De Quien? on a Tuesday night, we were one of only 4 parties in the restaurant. But with such wonderful cooking, reasonable prices, a whole wine cellar downstairs and a summer terrace on the roof, this place is certain to start getting busy.
So next time you want some fine dining, next time you want to make a reservation and dress up, spend an hour just reading the wine list and hold menus that aren’t made of brown paper… go to one of these restaurants. They are both run by wonderful people who will ensure a delicious meal, attention to detail and a truly memorable evening.
Bella Italia: Árabe Siria 3285 / T. 4802-4253
De Quien?: Honduras 4141, Palermo/ T. 4861-1491.