La Riuà is one of those restaurants where it’s worth eating just to gaze at the walls, which are covered in plates and photos, reminding you that the King of Spain himself has eaten here, as well as many other famous people, and that the restaurant won a sackful of gastronomy prizes in the 80s and 90s, which is significant, as they have stayed the same while others have attempted to reinvent the wheel and fix what ain’t broken.
In other words it’s one of those restaurants that conserves traditional Valencian cooking and traditional hospitality.
The restaurant is named after the great flood of ‘57, which devastated Valencia and led to a massive rebuilding programme to house the homeless, as well as the deviation of the River Turia around the city, which is why we have this wonderful park in the centre now, where the old river used to be.
Give me a menu with something I don’t know on it and my order is as good as placed. I’d never heard of Arroz Coca, nor Arroz Grava, and fearing that the latter might contain gravel I plumped for the former.
The restaurant too reminds you of how Valencia used to be and was one of the first I visited when I arrived here in 1981.
The city has improved tremendously since then, but it’s still rewarding to find something that hasn’t changed for better or worse, for richer or poorer.
The owner Don Francisco Castro (I don’t often call people ‘Don’ but if anyone deserves the term it is Francisco), who will not allow a single diner to pass through his doors without a sincere interrogation to make sure that all was as it should have been.
The menu is wide and varied, which is often a risky business, sacrificing quality for quantity, but the time spent waiting assured us that the meal was being prepared from scratch and worth waiting for.
The starters are inevitably tasty and direct, such as the squid in garlic and parsley sauce, a flavour that is difficult to better, should the mad temptation grab you.
The wine list included the varietals of each wine, which is handy if you genuinely care about the difference between a Tempranillo and a Bobal; they even have that rarity, a 100% Bobal, the Bo.
Calle del Mar 27