It’s worth walking past the ‘cheek-by-jowl’ eateries in La Lonja’s Apuntadores to find Elena Baquera’s elegant contemporary two-storey restaurant, at the less frenetic end of the lane.
The stylish restaurant (46 covers) is decorated with dark wood, mirrors – which make the place look larger – and gleaming tableware. We chose a table at the back, next to a window with the view of a leafy courtyard. Not that we were admiring the view: there were wine lists and a menu to peruse.
We enjoyed the aperitivo: a glass of cava, and a platter of golden fried zucchini strips, truffle cream, button onions in a sweet onion marmalade, and slices of Mortadella, served with crisply baked thin slices of bread.
Elena Baquera, the restaurant owner was asked to select some representative dishes from Ribello’s menu for us to taste. They are prepared by the chef Liliana Ceron Medina and her team. First we were served La Burrata Tartufata, a fresh Italian buffalo milk cheese from Puglia, dressed with truffle oil. It looked like a large mozzarella, but tasted infinitely more delicious.
Elena is passionate about the principles of the Slow Food movement, so the pizza here is cooked in a conventional oven at 220 degrees for 20 minutes, rather than in the brief fierce heat of a pizza oven. “It’s real pizza, like the ones made at home,” she told us. It was certainly flavourful, topped with mozzarella and coppa – a tasty salted raw ham. There are four types of pizza to chose from. If dining in a group, sharing a few starters – in true Italian style – means you can taste several dishes.
Breaded chicken breast with peperonata was our first main course dish. The thinly sliced chicken was accompanied by a flavourful mix of slowly-cooked tomatoes, pepper and onion. Authentic Italian dining calls for pasta: ‘A dream of ravioli’ translated into home-made ravioli filled with a mixture of meat, mascarpone, peperoni, garlic and truffle, and served with a creamy sauce bursting with the flavours of mushroom, truffle and Masala wine. Next, we tried the baby lamb chops, served nicely pink. Vegetables are extra: roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and spinach au gratin. Another more recent star dish is the ‘risotto di aragosta’ (lobster and shrimps – 21,80€ per person).
Elena is a great host, passionate about Italian ingredients and dishes. Her enthusiasm is infectious, so we were easily persuaded to try a dessert – or three: a refreshing pineapple carpaccio with ice cream; deliciously creamy home-made tiramisu and regional speciality, pettole della Cittavecchia. Reminiscent of the lightest of small sugar-coated doughnuts, they came with mascarpone and fruits of the forest.
There’s an excellent choice of Italian wines, ranging from good value characterful references to fine wines to satisfy connoisseurs.
Ribello was almost full when we left – a testament to the success of this very popular restaurant in the heart of La Lonja.
We liked the comfortable buzz, non-intrusive background music and the warm ambience that’s sometimes lacking in modern restaurants. That’s mostly down to Elena’s easy Mallorcan charm and welcoming manner. Maître d’ Lucas Miguel Balbuena leads the efficient service team.
Ribello serves dinner only from 19:00h Monday to Sunday (but closes in December and January/February). Reservation recommended.