I've visited Italy enough by now to understand the bad rap its cuisine gets once it crosses Italian borders, and I have to admit I was fairly sceptical about Italian restaurants in Barcelona. But first there was Xemei, and then the more modest Piccola Cucina Italiana, and now there's Obe, and I'm a changed man.
Obe is a small restaurant in Plaça de Santa Caterina, and its location in the middle of a part of the city busy with out-of-towners might make you think this is a restaurant set up just to take advantage of tourists, but nothing could be further from the truth. Obe, whose name sounds deceptively Japanese, is in fact a petite and honest Italian restaurant with respect for the food they serve. The aubergine parmigiana, for example, which my dining companion ordered, tasted like it had just been taken out of the oven in Sicily.
For our main courses we decided on two dishes with such talent – yes, dishes of food have talent – that we were overcome with a desire to make our forks dance round the table. I ordered orecchiette with a creamy artichoke and speck sauce; she ordered home-made gnocchi with wild mushroom and truffle sauce. The gnocchi are magnificent (I was lucky she let me try one), and the orecchiette are even better – they reminded me of the ones I had at Christmas in 2006 in Bari, southern Italy. That year Barça were the European champions, but the women who formed the orecchiette with their thumbs as they sat on the streets of Bari deserved the world cup. We went into Obe a bit doubtful and left with a feeling of pure satisfaction.
I can highly recommend the house wine we had, a red from L’Azienda Agricola Tacoli Asquini. For dessert we ordered ricotta-cheese cannoli and tiramisu, but the memory from desserts at Picola Cucina Italiana was too new, and these didn't quite live up to that sweet dream. That said, the final word is that Obe is a real find.
Plaça Santa Catalina, 1
|Opening hours:||Mon closed; Tue-Sat 12.30pm-midnight; Sun 12.30pm-4pm|
|Transport:||Jaume I (M: L4)|