Vía Veneto: A Barcelona Landmark

Gastronomy

26/06/2017

When you hear “Vía Veneto,” the first words that come to mind are quality, exclusivity, tradition. This is high-end gastronomy at its most timeless. Founded in 1967, this classic Barcelona restaurant is an enduring point of reference in the country's gastronomic universe. And that is thanks to José Monje, the restaurant's owner.

He started out as a waiter, worked his way up to manager, and eventually, in recognition of his loyalty, hard work, and commitment to the restaurant, he became its sole owner. Not only has Vía Veneto maintained the same level of quality since the 1970s, it has improved over the years. “Specifically because we have known how to interpret the culinary changes of each era,” Monje remarks. At the beginning, Vía Veneto looked to the nouvelle cuisine pouring in from France. They began introducing elements, but ultimately decided it wasn't a good fit. “We needed local products and recipes, from Catalonia and Barcelona,” the owner explained. And so it went. They moved away from French cuisine, with its emphasis on sauces and elaborately adorned dishes, and focused their attention on the product itself. “This is the key to success. If the product isn't first-rate, you can't make truly great food.” Everyone at Vía Veneto knows this, and they’ve stayed true to their philosophy for 50 years. “We provided top-notch service from the moment we opened.”

Five decades later, the restaurant's identity remains unchanged. Its Belle Epoque décor is well worth seeing. Monje might have handed the day-to-day management to his son, Pere, but he doesn't miss a thing. “I have to oversee everything, because it's what I've done my whole life. Vía Veneto is my home, and I'm always happy to give advice and guidance wherever I can.” In addition to the Monje family (father and son), the Vía Veneto team is made up of 40 people. The kitchen is helmed by chef Sergio Ahumada, son of Juan Mari Ahumada, one of the leading names in Basque cuisine. Ahumada trained at El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz, and he has given Vía Veneto its own distinctive style defined by familiar flavors, but made and presented in a contemporary fashion.

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One of Vía Veneto's star dishes is undoubtedly the roast duck à la presse. This is clear to Monje, who mentions it without a moment’s hesitation. The dish has been served since 1967, and its preparation, carving and plating is a true art. The steak tartare also deserves a mention. As Monje points out, the dish has also been around “forever.”

And what can one say about the wines? They get the best possible treatment here. To begin with, the restaurant's cellar, located six meters below ground, is home to over 1000 bottles. Plus, customers can take a guided tour with sommelier José Martínez.

Speaking of the customers—the clientele hasn't changed much either. The generations have shifted, of course, but in the dining room, one still sees young thirty-somethings alongside couples in their 70s. They all have one thing in common: a love for excellent food.

Categorías: Gastronomy