Legendary Bar at the Boqueria: Bar Pinotxo

Juanito Bayen of Pinotxo BarJuanito Bayen of Pinotxo Bar
When you visit Barcelona’s Boqueria market, come hungry. You will not want to leave without having a meal at Bar Pinotxo, a 14-seat—make that 14-stool—establishment that is nearing its 100th anniversary. Proprietor Juanito Bayen—known to all as Pinotxo (pee-no-cho)—greets even newcomers like family. Don’t bother asking for a menu. Just ask “What’s good today?”

Pinotxo’s nephew, chef Albert Asin, mans the stoves here. And with just a sliver of a space to work in, he turns out expert versions of Catalan classics. Bar Pinotxo is the place to sample some of Valencia’s huge repertoire of rice dishes, made with the plump, round Bomba rice.

Paella you certainly know. But many of the region’s best rice dishes are not made in a shallow, wide paella pan but in a terra cotta cazuela or even in a deep stockpot. Some are dry; some are soupy. Some contain saffron; others don’t. All of these rice dishes—known as arroces (or arroz in the singular)—rely on a rich broth to give them flavor.

With the live Galician lobster he has purchased from a favorite seafood vendor in the Boqueria, Chef Albert makes a Catalan classic called Arroz Caldoso con Bogavante, a soupy rice in seafood broth. As you watch him make Arroz Caldoso, pay attention to his comments about the monkfish broth. It must be concentrated or the dish will taste bland. Also note his use of a picada, a fried and pounded mixture of herbs, garlic, nuts and sometimes bread that contributes body and depth to many Catalan dishes.

Arroz Caldoso does not have to rest before serving like a paella does. In fact, it should be served promptly or the rice may overcook.

Watch the recipe demo: Arroz Caldoso con Bogavante (Catalan Rice with Lobster) (Flash video, 13:33)

If you only have a small appetite, you can just have a tapa or two. Pinotxo is a great place to sample Catalan tapas like pa amb tomàquet (tomato-rubbed toast), salt cod croquettes or esqueixada (shredded salt cod salad).

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