La Paella is a Spanish restaurant with a menu of tapas and high-end paella made using imported ingredients.
Despite a relatively humble outward appearance, the food here is really very upscale. The smallest tapas start at $10 with paellas surpassing the $50 mark, and there’s a dedicated paella chef.
Watch him work away in a completely open kitchen that takes up maybe a back third of the small thirty-seat restaurant, a half dozen four-person tables and an equal number of bar stools providing seating.
Spanish style olives ($10), or aceitunas alinadas if you feel comfortable ordering in the menu’s Spanish, are imported from Spain and marinated simply with Spanish paprika, garlic and lemon.
Boquerones ($18), salty and strong-tasting white marinated anchovies imported from Spain, make a dueta paired with rich Atlantic salmon, accompanied by parsley and imported Spanish capers.
Pimientos piquillo rellenos bacalao ($16) are oven-baked Spanish piquillo peppers stuffed with a cod mousse and smothered in sauce.
Mojama ($18) is Barbate tuna air-cured the same way as jamon, topped with olive oil “caviar” balls. Tuna and olive oil flavours are highly concentrated, the tough strips almost like a high-end tuna jerky.
Serrano and Iberico jamon are also available here, a platter of the 24-month-cured Iberico pata negra going for $55. A sample sliver of the Serrano is luscious and salty, with a thick rim of fat that melts in your mouth.
A tortilla espanola ($14), while simple, is one of the items with the best value here and brings out the perfection of the holy trinity of potatoes, eggs and onions.
The tortilla is cooked a la minuit so it’s fresh and steamy.
Gambas al ajillo ($20) are sweet, plump garlic shrimp served in a sizzling pool of Spanish olive oil with a touch of Manzanilla wine.
Paella de Carne ($70), like all paellas here, starts with imported Spanish broth, tomato paste and rice. The dish is then built in layers, with garlic, onion, piquillo peppers, mushrooms, green beans, chicken, sumptuous Iberico pork ribs, Iberico chorizo and jamon serrano.
Gordal olives and lemon on top wake up and harmonize all the different flavours. Spanish broth and Spanish saffron work together to create the paella’s beautiful golden colour.
Empanada Gallega is also made here, originally a day trip lunch item made using leftovers stuffed here with tuna for an almost sandwich-like dish.
A Galician almond cake is a simple but sweet and woody dessert made using only eggs, sugar and almond.
Wines start at $40 but skyrocket to $450 for a bottle of prestigious Vega Siciliana Valbuena.
This is owner Angel Goni’s first restaurant, though he’s previously run a catering company and been a food and beverage manager in Madrid, and co-owns the place with Gabriel Manailescu.