Classic Spanish food has made its way to the heart of the West Village in the form of Barraca. While the restaurant brings tapas, paella, and sangria to late night diners, it also brings together two artistic restaurateurs: chef Jesus Nunez of the modern Spanish restaurant Gastroarte, and Héctor Sanz, founder of Quimeria Restaurant Group, which owns Rayuela and Macondo.
“We’ve been talking for a couple years now on creating something really great together and there were many conversations over many glasses of wine about what the right project would be,” said the 35-year-old Sanz. “We both agreed we wanted to get back to basics and for us, that was tapas, paella and sangria. New Yorkers are familiar with these things, but have never experienced them quite like what we offer at Barraca.
The goal of the two men is to bring not only authentic Spanish food to the table, but also share their culture and heritage. This includes their love for the arts.
In Sanz’s case, his passion for theater, film, and literature can be seen in how he names and themes his restaurants, like Rayuela means “hopscotch”and was inspired by Argentine writer Julio Cortázar’s experimental novel from 1963. In turn, the food also runs on the playful side. Macondo was named after the fictional town in Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and they serve Latin street fare. Barraca comes from a 1930’s traveling theater company led by artists and writers Federico García Lorca, Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel. Hence, the atmosphere of the restaurant brings to mind a traveling theater.
For the 36-year-old Nunez, his artistic side literally shows in his food at Gastroarte. There, each menu item evokes street art as plates are streaked with sauce, patterned with food gel, and shaped in unusual ways. You will not find dishes like this at Barraca, but instead, carefully crafted tapas like the deviled egg with tuna, grilled cuttlefish, and meatballs made with Nunez’s grandmother’s recipe. They also serve charcuteria, salads, and six types of paella like the paella de tierra, which has chicken, rabbit, pork belly, pork ribs, and two types of beans.
“For us it’s about the authenticity of the product but also the life and style of our culture,” said Sanz. “Together we represent the new generation of Spanish restaurateurs and intend to bring our patrons the best Spanish food they’ve ever had.”