Okay, have you had enough of Spanish cuisine? Need a break from sardines, croquetas, jamón, and paella? Then it is time to step out of Valencia’s city center and venture into another part of the town where you can find restaurants with cuisine from all over the world. Canovas and Russafa are two neighborhoods (barrios in Spanish) in the district of Ensanche (Eixample) where you will find a hundreds of restaurants with diverse options like Japanese, Italian, Argentinian, American and fusion cuisine. It would be impossible to cover both barrios in one post, so we are going to explore them separately. Here, we look at the Canovas barrio.
Canovas is a beautiful little barrio just outside of the old city wall and only a 15 minute walk from the city center. This upscale residential barrio, which is officially called La Gran Via, is a triangular area bordered by large tree-lined avenues with parks running down the center of each route. The Gran Via del Marques del Turia, Av. del Regne de Valencia, and Av. Jacinto Benavente along the Turia Park define the barrio covering roughly 24 square blocks. Canovas is popular for its dining and nightlife. There are well over 100 restaurants listed on Google and that does not include bars, bistros, cafes, or pubs. The eating, drinking, and crawling opportunities are nearly endless.
In no particular order, these are the restaurants we head to when we’ve had a little too much jamón:
Smoke and Roll is new to Canovas having just opened 3 months ago. It has a bit more of a contemporary feel than most places in Valenica and offers fusion cuisine with touches of Thai, Mexican, and Peruvian. Chef Luca Dessole is Italian but spent his last 6 years in London. He has taken many trips to Thailand which clearly has influenced his style.
A quick look over the menu convinced us that a good versatile beer would be the best match for the variety of flavors, particularly given we were going to be getting into some good spicy dishes. They have Brabante on tap, a beer originally from Belgium that is now brewed in Madrid. The sign outside says finger food and they mean it. No utensils unless you ask for them. You eat everything with your hands.
The Ceviche de corvina salvaje con leche de tigre. This was an interesting way to experience a Peruvian style ceviche. Leche de tigre is the mixture of lime juice, chili pepper, onion, salt and other seasonings mixed with fish juice left at the bottom of the ceviche bowl. Cubes of corvina ceviche were skewered and chilled over ice. The leche de tigre was served on the side in a bowl. We were instructed by our server to take a bite of the fish and then a sip from the bowl. This allowed us to appreciate the clean freshness of the fish followed by the tangy bite of the leche de tigre. A sprinkling of katsuobushi, which are dried bonito flakes, added a smokey touch.
Taco vietnamita en hoja de lechuga con panceta de cerdo… In other words, pork belly in a lettuce wrap topped with a thick peanut sauce. Messy to eat but pure decadence. This was hard to share – cause we both wanted it all. Next time we’ll each get our own.
Taco de maiz con salteado de cerdo Krapaho (Thai), queso burrata y pimiento lagrima. This little taco of sauteed pork topped with burrata cheese and some sweet little peppers was an unexpected and delightful mix of flavors. I’ve never had burrata on a taco, but I like it.
Our last dish was a larger principle plate, the Cerdo Pekin. Presa iberica is a thick cut of meat from the shoulder of Iberico pigs that is considered a very special cut of pork. The idea here was to wrap a slice of meat in a piece of roti bread and dip into one of three tasty sauces. Of course I couldn’t resist dipping into all three at once. I didn’t want any flavors to be left out.
This was a sticky, spicy, flavourful, handful of yummy goodness. The beer was a great match to cut through some of the heat and help wash all this stuff down. Can’t wait to return. But right now, its time to go wash my hands.
Smoke and Roll
Carrer de Salamanca, 14
Hours: Monday – Saturday 1:30PM-4:00PM, 9:00PM-12:00AM
Have a hankering for some Italian food? There are a number of good Italian restaurants around the city – there are over a dozen in Canovas alone. Lambrusqueria is a very popular Italian trattoria owned by Toni Campagnol, who hails from Torino Italy. Toni has had to open three locations within two blocks in order to handle his clientele. The main restaurant is at Calle Conde Altea 31 with a second location directly accross the street at 36 and then a third around the corner at Calle Ciscar 3. The main location has a lovely spot with lots of tables outside on a pretty tree-lined street. In the evening the place glows with candles.
We go back again and again for the burrata and tomato caprese salad. Did I mention that I like burrata? It is the best burrata that we’ve had in the city, served with sliced tomatoes and a dollop of basil pesto. It is not on the regular menu, so check to see if it is on the specials board.
The fresh pastas are tender and well prepared. They are large enough that we can usually share one (especially after a big ball of burrata). The Pesto Ligure is simply done with tomato, pine nut, basil and parmesan. The Norcina pasta has champignon mushrooms, pork sausage and Norcia’s truffle.
This is by no means fancy – our Italian friend in Valencia thinks of Lambrusqueria as Italian fast food as the menu is fairly simple and does not change too much (although there are daily specials). Even so, the quality is very good, the service is great, and the atmosphere is Italian.
Calle Conde Altea 31/36 – Calle Ciscar 3
Hours: Monday – Saturday 12:00PM-5:00PM, 7:00PM-2:00AM, Sunday 1:00PM-5:00PM, 8:00PM-12:00AM
Okay – I know I have said this before, but sometimes you just need pizza!
iDon Ristorante makes certified Napolitana pizza. This certification (Traditional Specialty Guaranteed Certificate) means the pizza must follow specific guidelines including how the dough and crust are made, the amount of crushed tomato, the weight of Bufala Campana mozzarella, to name a few. The pizza is baked in a wood-burning oven brought from Naples at 485 degrees celsius (that’s 905 degrees farenheit) to us non-Europeans. All of the ingredients come from Italy.
They have a nice selection of Italian red and white wines all for under 20 euros and a selection of Italian beers as well. We chose a hearty Aligianico (a red from Campagina in the South) to go with our pies.
They have a list of over a dozen pizzas. I selected the DOC: a classic pizza with tomato, mozzarella de bufala, and basil. My husband went with the Vesuvio: a more complicated pie with yellow cherry tomatoes, provolone, pecorino, and guanciale (an Italian cured meat similar to bacon). That’s right, we each ordered our own pizza and we ate them all. We needed pizza that badly.
The service was attentive and friendly. In fact, when we declined dessert they brought out a small slice of chocolate torta for us to try, stating they were experimenting on a new postre. This along with two small shots of lemoncello were gratis. I won’t expect this every time, but it was a nice touch.
Carrer de Borriana, 37
Hours: 1:30PM – 4:30PM, 8:30PM-12:30AM
There are plenty of Japanese restaurants in Canovas, many of them with sushi buffets. Kamon is completely different from those restaurants. Think of a fusion where incredibly fresh Mediterranean seafood is prepared with Japanese techniques. The atmosphere is bright and elegant. You will need a reservation. This place is extremely popular and small. They only have 11 tables inside and most of these are 2 seaters.
We have recently come to appreciate tasting menus (Menu Degustacions) especially when trying a new restaurant. Instead of muscling our way through the menu and risking a poor choice, we get to try a little taste from each category. Kamon has two tasting menus available: the “Menu Degustacion” with 10 items (includes 1 postre) for €28, and the “Menu Gourmet” for €40, which also had 10 items but selected from their more expensive items.
We decided to splurge and went with the Menu Gourmet. Each taste was surprising and creative with meticulous attention to detail. There is not enough room in this post to show all of the dishes, so here are some highlights:
Sashimi de Ventresca con salsa wasabi: buttery slices of ventresca (tuna belly) sitting over a salad of whisper thin shredded carrot and seaweed. A spicy wasabi sauce topped it off.
Nigiri Salmonete con trufa y miso: this isn’t salmon. Salmonete is the name used for red mullet, a small fish with white flesh. As soon as this plate hit the table the incredible aroma of truffle hit the nose. Maybe a bit much for the delicate fish underneath, but I didn’t care. It was delicious nonetheless.
Nigiri Anguila con confitura de setas: This was delivered in a pretty little box. The lid was removed to reveal a large, thick slice of grilled eel atop sushi rice. The fish was flavored with a confit of mushrooms. It was as delicious as it was beautiful.
Maki Wagyu: slices of seared rare Wagyu beef topped a maki roll. This was a very complex creation with a smokey flavor to the meat, broccoli, and a garnish of crispy beets. I even think I found a raspberry in there somewhere.
For the rest of the tasting menu, the pictures can speak for themselves:
Calle Conde Altea, nº32.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 13:30 – 16:00 / 20:30 – 23:30
Closed Sunday and Monday
Beef is definitely not one of the things done well or often in a Spanish restaurant. Fortunately for us Valencianos there are plenty of Argentinian Steak Houses in the area. In fact there are at least a half dozen in Canovas alone. Gordon 10 has been in Canovas for over a decade and besides its amazing beef from Argentina, they have an extensive selection of international beers, many of which are on tap. They also have a reasonable wine list. This is not a fancy restaurant. It feels more like a pub but the food, drink, and service are great and reasonably priced. You can get a great steak for under €20 and a great wine for under €20 as well.
We started with two empanadas to get ourselves into the meaty mood. A heavy start to an even heavier meal. The empanada had an excellent light, crunchy, yet doughy feel. The meat filling was tender and flavorful. We paired these with a couple of strong Belgium ales they had on tap.
Our server brought out a plate of beautiful ribeye steaks. At 300 grams per steak, they were meant to be shared. We ordered one along with vegetables and fries. I’m pretty certain that this was the Entrecot argentino angus trinchado en bandeja a la parrilla on the menu for 20.80 euros. The steak was presented carved in advance to share, cooked perfectly to medium rare of course. Crunchy flakes of sea salt were the only seasoning needed to compliment the flavor of the beef. We paired this with a Valencian wine from Utiel-Requena.
All in all an excellent meal and an excellent price. (If you’re looking for a fancy intimate steak house with an extensive list of aged beef, all you need to do is walk two blocks down the street to Asador Palenque. But you will need to have a reservation in advance.)
Carrer del Comte d’Altea, 49, 46005 València, Spain
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 6:30PM – 2:00AM
There are numerous Asian restaurants in Canovas and we will cover more of them in the future, however, lately it’s been cold, windy, wet, and dreary. We’ve needed something warm and savory. It is perfect weather for a steaming bowl of ramen.
Ryukishin Zen Express is a very popular spot. On this particular day the place filled up shortly after opening. We started the meal with some Gyoza con cerdo y verduras. These arrived as five dumplings of really tender and flavorful meat inside a delicate wrapper. We followed those with the Gambas fritas. These five large shrimp were battered in a light and delicate tempura.
I am not a Ramen expert. I really know very little about it, so I won’t pretend. Instead, I’ll offer this little guide to ramen from Serious Eats that has been very useful in helping me to order what is more than just a bowl of noodle soup.
Ryukishin serves traditional styles of ramen: Shio, Miso, and Shoyu. I had the Shio ramen, which is a traditional salt broth of vegetables, chicken, pork and seaweed. In addition to the rice noodles the Shio ramen had tender slices of chicken.
My husband had the Miso ramen, in which miso is added to the broth for flavoring. His bowl was filled with rice noodles and tender, fatty slices of pork. If you like, you can add an egg or extra meat to any of the ramens for €1.
Thank goodness Ryukishin is just around the corner from our house. Warm and full of noodles, we are prepared to take on this less than typical Valencian weather.
C/ Salamanca 12 – 46005 Valencia
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 1:00PM – 4:00PM, 8:30PM – 12:30AM Closed Mondays