By Roxana Baicu, guest writer

If you’re into Spanish traditional cuisine, Alioli is your place!

You’ll find it on Popa Tatu Street close to Stirbei crossroads near one of the most beautifully landscaped gardens in Bucharest – Cismigiu. The restaurant is the first choice among the Spanish community in Bucharest offering a great variety of good food, very nice Spanish and Romanian wines, a relaxed atmosphere, a passionate owner trying to ‘put on the plate’ to his customers a great experience at decent prices.

This time we went there for lunch and were unintentionally inspired to park the car 3 minutes by walk from the restaurant. This way we entered a bit into the atmosphere of that old part of the city while admiring beautiful details of the old houses on our way.

We’ve been several times to Alioli with friends or for farewell parties and have always had a great time.

For today’s lunch we were looking for very fresh seafood, savourous traditional Spanish dishes, a smiley staff and efficient service. We realized once more that this place is a must-go if you’re looking for an intimate, family run place.

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As you enter the restaurant, you notice the friendly set-up, the walls decorated with photos with some of Alioli’s happy customers. Many times you are welcomed by the owner himself, Sorin. The music is either low or off when it’s crowded and you really feel you’ve entered a cozy, vivid restaurant in Spain.

Despite other places with inconsistencies in client experiences, this restaurant continues to serve delicious, authentic Spanish food time and time again. Portions are more than generous and of very good quality.

On this occasion, for example, each of us ordered a different appetizer and entree and we were all thoroughly pleased to share. It seems that sharing dishes is actually a custom in Spain. Wait staff could not have been more accommodating to us throughout our meal. First thing upon arrival we were served the Alioli sauce and toasted bread. After that, we imbibed everything from fruity sangria to icy gins, while devouring crunchy-tender shrimps and the Gazpacho Andaluz to start, continuing with the Mejillones picantes, Mejillones a la Marinera and much more seafood.

Many times we shared the paella for two and it was as good as the one I had in Spain. This time we had the Fideuá de Marisco. Everything else on the menu is great too: Meloso de Mariscos, Paella de Mariscos, Almejas a la plancha, Pimientos de Padrón (from Padrón, Galicia).

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Much of what is served there was grown or reared in the vast and beautiful Spain. Try the Jamón Ibérico de Bellota- it is prized for its unique taste, created in part by the aroma of sweet acorns that the pigs feed on. When the slaughtering time approaches, the pigs are only fed with acorns and olives, for the best quality of jamón Ibérico. The jamón is cured from 12 months up to 4 years before it is ready to be sliced and served. I find the Jamón Ibérico de Bellota very rich and intensely flavored. It is very well paired with a traditional Rioja wine.

All in all, the atmosphere was fun and we truly enjoyed our time in Alioli. We found out that Alioli stands for „oil and garlic”, being a Catalan word.

Despite feeling way too full from so many dishes, I indulged a “Tarta de manzana con helado de vanilla” and at the owner’s advice, I tried the ‘Bombon’, the Spanish ladies’ coffee. Quite a treat!

I think every single one of us left impressed with both the service and the food. Sorin is a great host and most of his staff speak very good Spanish and English.

Be sure to reserve in time especially in the weekends..or you can try your luck, anyway!

Alioli: 4 Popa Tatu St., +4021 311 80 27, +40721 38 49 83