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L’antic Bocoi del Gòtic, Barcelona, Spain

A thousand years of deliciousness

L’antic Bocoi del Gòtic is only a five-minute walk from the tourist-heavy La Rambla, but worlds — and centuries — away.

Up close Catalan Pizza from L’antic Bocoi del GòticDown narrow, winding alleyways, filled with ancient buildings, this Catalan restaurant is one of those locals-only secrets. Chef-owner Marc Balfegó and his Chef-wife Rosa have run this amazing restaurant for the past 17 years, using the very best local ingredients to celebrate traditional Catalan dishes.

At L’antic Bocoi del Gòtic, the plates aren’t huge, but they’re incredibly filling and satisfying. And because they serve smaller portions, you can order a few different plates for a sampling of real Catalan food.

Salad with Goat Cheese and Warm Honey Sauce

Salad with Goat Cheese and Warm Honey Sauce

We began with Salad with Goat Cheese and Warm Honey Sauce, local greens, pine nuts, and golden currants tossed with delicate vinaigrette and topped with a generous round of velvety goat cheese and honey sauce. It’s an exciting salad of contrasts — crunchy, slightly bitter greens against creamy soft and sweet goat cheese and honey; the tangy, chewy sharpness of pine nuts balanced against the toothsome sugariness of the currants.

Next came the Catalan Sausage Plate, a selection of traditional sausages — black and white blood sausage, longaniza, fuet, and secallona — all served with small pieces of crispy, soft, olive oiled bread. Don’t be put off by the name blood sausage or you’ll miss some of the best sausage Barcelona has to offer. The black blood sausage is rich and flavorful; the white blood sausage has a clean, meaty taste. The longaniza is chewy and peppery; the fuet similar to a mild salami; and the secallona is a very chewy, spicy sausage almost like a pepperoni stick. The bread, which they make onsite, has just the right crispness on the bottom, with a tender chewiness and the delightful flavor of good quality Spanish olive oil and sea salt on top.

L'antic Bocoi del Gotic's bread

Chefs Marc and Rosa make their own bread to accompany their sausage plate. It’s crispy on the bottom, soft on the top with just a hint of olive oil and salt.

The star of their menu is the Coques de Recapte, a type of Catalan pizza (legend has it the Catalans, not the Italians, actually invented pizza). Coques are made with a thin base of crispy bread dough and olive oil topped with a variety seasonal ingredients – roast vegetables, goat cheese, mozzarella, smoked bacon, dates, and salt codfish, among others. The results are extraordinarily delicious.

We went with Chef Marc’s suggestion of crusty flatbread topped with escalivada (roasted red pepper, eggplant, and onion) with esqueixada (shredded salt cod salad). If you’ve not had Catalan salt cod, you’re in for a treat that’s salty-sweet with no fishy taste. Again, this dish is a symphony of contrasts — crunchy flatbread, pillow-soft salt cod that is both sweet and salty with just a hint of olive oil and garlic.

Catalan pizza - Roques de Recapte

Roques de Recapte is an ancient Catalan form of pizza. This one features creamy salt cod, peppers, eggplant, and sweet onions.

The salad and couques were so filling we opted to take the sausage home with us (which we enjoyed for lunch on the train to Seville). But Chef Marc wouldn’t let us leave without trying one of his desserts dessert and coffee and we were glad we did. His Chocolate Cake is a small, incredibly rich rectangle of crumbly cake that’s slightly crisp on the outside, silky smooth on the inside. It’s served with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. It was perfect with a tiny cup of café cortado, the traditional Catalan espresso served with a little milk and sugar.

Beautiful old building, the location of L'antic Bocoi del Gotic

The ambiance of this ancient building housing the restaurant is part of what makes eating at L’antic Bocoi del Gòtic special. Notice the original ceiling and archways that were stairways in former Gothic homes.

One of the most amazing things about L’antic Bocoi del Gòtic is that Chef Marc and Chef Rosa serve some of the very best Catalan food in Barcelona from a kitchen that’s no bigger than a large closet. This restaurant doesn’t even have a stove, just a very hot, portable oven! The reason they have so little room is that their restaurant is located in an ancient building that features part of the original 2,000-year-old Roman city wall. Another section of the restaurant was formerly two separate Gothic houses. The original archway that was the entrance to one of the homes is now the front of the restaurant. Two small arches on one of the walls marked stairways in the old homes. (When you finish your meal, as you leave, turn to your left, walk a few paces, and look up and you’ll see one of the original Gothic windows. Keep walking a few feet further and you’ll see the Roman wall and a Roman tower that are part of this ancient building.)

While it’s a bit challenging to find this restaurant, realfoodtravelers, L’antic Bocoi del Gòtic is well worth seeking out. Our L’antic Bocoi del Gòtic meal was our very best meal (among many) in Spain. Even more impressive, this simple meal, made with the finest ingredients this region has to offer, is among the best meals we’ve eaten in our lives (which speaks volumes when you consider that we sample cuisines around the world). Eating at L’antic Bocoi del Gòtic, you will surely experience a thousand years of Catalan deliciousness. — by Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor, Photos by Anne Weaver, RFT Editor

Chef in black outfit with arms crossed

Chef Marc uses only the best ingredients and stays true to his Catalan heritage.

L’antic Bocoi del Gòtic
Baixada de Viladecols, 3
Barcelona, Spain
93 310 50 67
www.bocoi.net

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Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

RFT co-founder Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook, Bobbie is editor-in-chief at realfoodtraveler.com.