Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Milagros Gastrobar - A Bit of La Spagna in Napoli

Napoli, Naples, is a large city devoted to their traditional cuisine and recipes.  Diners here want their favorites, dishes that they grew up with, their customs.  Because of this, it sure isn't easy,  to find an ethnic restaurant in the heart of the city.  Spanish cuisine, however is another story.
That's why going back to Milagros Gastrobar a little more than a year ish after their grand opening was such a treat.  Milagros Gastrobar is a small Spanish restaurant tucked in a vico a whisper away from the hustle and bustle of Mergellina's lungomare.  I visited back in the fall of 2013 when Chef Carlos Peña and Marina Delle Monache had just opened up.  I decided to go back a couple of weeks ago for a chat, a glass or two of Spanish vinos, and a fresh look and taste of their revamped  tapas and paella menu.
Chef Carlos Peña

¡Buen provecho!

We began with Xato', a crunchy escarole salad which the chef prepared for me at my table as he explained the ingredients.  Ingredients which included black olives and  a romesco sauce,  popular  Catalonia, Northern Spain made with nuts and red peppers.  

Next up, it was time for baccala', or salted cod.  Another ingredient that pops up in Spanish cuisine quite often.

 This version is fried in a batter that is crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.    Known as buñuelos di baccala - ole'!

Since we all love little fried balls of goodness, it was only natural that I'd try a jamon croquette.

Excited to see a wine list with affordable Spanish wines, like this fresh crisp white which paired well with my dishes.

Next up,  this dish-Huevos “Cidón”-scrambled eggs with potatoes, morcilla di León, and a granny smith green apple sauce. Chef Carlos Peña's tribute to his maestro, Carlos Cidón (Castilla e León's first michelin star chef) who passed away a few years ago.

 The chef decided I should try another wine to go with my next dish.  I did not complain - excited to visit Spain in a glass.  This rich red reminded me of many of my favorite Aglianicos from Campania.

And what better wine to go with carrilleras with Spanish sauce.  Slow cooked braised veal with a red wine reduction sauce.  Red peppers on the side.

 Before dessert, I decided to stop by the kitchen and see what else was going on.   The chef was busy! The table next to me had ordered this dish - Pimiento del Piquillo stuffed with  baccalà...

And arròs negre with clams...

 The table next to me.  A Neapolitan family with 20 somethings and their parents.  Parents who one may assume would be stuck in their traditions, not interested in trying something new.  Old school Neapolitans who were just as curious as I, enjoying their meal, asking   Marina questions, who with a smile overflowed with information on recipes, cheeses, wines, culture and customs.
She brought me over my dessert. How did she know I liked chocolate?  Tartufo di di carajillo - with chocoalate, coffee and oruju - a popular brandy from Northern Spain.

A sweet ending to a revisit to Milagros Gastrobar.  A restaurant with a year ish under its belt has become a comfortable part of the Neapolitan neighborhood.  
A bit of Spagna in Napoli.

Milagros Gastrobar
Via S.Maria in Portico, 15 
Tel: 081 032 0143

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