Extra Portions – Antiquary - Benitachell. By Fiona Jennison.
Established in 2005, Antiquary is a very charming restaurant in the pretty village of Benitachell, which is extremely good value for money, with a high quality Italian menu on offer. The Extra Portions factor is that because the decoration is very classic, and the food and service are of a very high standard, you feel like you are in a very upmarket restaurant but the prices are closer to those of a cafe. It’s really very economical, but you still feel like you’ve had a real treat. Four of us ate there recently for 55€, which included two starters, four main courses, a bottle of wine and soft drinks.
Cooking is an inherited passion for Antonio, the owner and chef, who whilst very experienced is clearly still passionate about food (even despite a stint working in restaurants in the not so sunny Manchester). His family have been in the restaurant business for generations; this is not one of those restaurants in the area that have sprung up through a lack of inspiration to do anything else as a business; this is the real McCoy. Antonio’s wife Maria is always the front of the house, and clearly also puts her heart and soul into the business.
There are no less than twenty two pizzas to choose from, so you have been warned. Don’t go with your tummy rumbling as you’ll need at least half an hour for umming and ahhing. I wonder if you can guess what ‘toppings’ the ‘Pizza a la Mafia’ consists of before you get to the end of this article....
The pasta is freshly home made, and you can genuinely taste the effort. My father declared the lasagne the best he’d ever had, and he’s had a few, being 81 years of age. And the simple ‘Fettuccine aglio e olio’ or tagliatelli with garlic, chilli, parsley and parmesan cheese (which will be bravely be attempted in my kitchen) made me want to give Antonio a Michelin star. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option so I gave him a hug instead.
The restaurant is a genuine ‘casa antigua’ and decorated with all sorts of antique bits and pieces that sit on the beams looking over the diners, and is always host to a selection of art by their friend, the rather famous painter Fernando Pagador.
A really reasonable Menu del Dia is available in the evenings for 21.50€, of three courses and wine. NB The only lunchtime they open is Sundays, and they are closed on Tuesday evenings.
They have a very pretty bougainvillea-graced garden for the all important al fresco meals in the summer.
I highly recommend Antiquary, as do many Spanish people on TripAdvisor with lots of “muy rico and muy bonito / very tasty and very pretty” comments.
So. Pizza a la Mafia? Did you guess? Lots of tomato sauce you say?! Bolognese topping? Tomato, onion, hot salami and mozzarella. Muy rico.