Baia Beniamin

December 20, 2006

63 Corso Europa, Ventimiglia. 0184.38.027/002. http://www.baiabeniamin.it
(closed Sunday night and Monday)

(December 20, 2006)…After several years absence, we decided to return to this beach-side restaurant just over the border in Ventimiglia because our enoteca ladies in Dolce Aqua told us that there was a new, Japanese chef serving at Baia Beniamin. 

It is true that there is a Japanese chef, but he is not new, having been there for two years, and he cooks Italian; but he does it well.img_0036a.jpg  Parking is easy, and then we climb down various levels of stairs, until reaching the beach level and a great terrace, leading to the restaurant’s entrance.  The dining room is a small one, with maybe ten tables.  The arched windows give out to the terrace and the sea. Behind are lighted arches with large orchid compositions in them.  Beamed ceilings, salmon colored walls and terra cotta floors covered with Oriental rugs complete the warm and friendly atmosphere further enhanced by a glass of chamgagne poured as soon as one is seated. img_0039a.jpg

At lunch, there are two choices of complete menus—the dégustation at 85 € and the Business lunch at 60 €, and extensive á la carte selections.  Both menus today were all fish, and the business lunch sounded more to our taste.  To begin, we practically inhaled a carrot mousse on baby greens. It was a great beginning (and “free”) to what promised to be a very good lunch.img_0040a.jpg  The marinated anchovies on baby arugula were so young, so fresh and so perfectly seasoned that they were almost sweet—no hint of the vinegar that you knew must be lurking in there somewhere.  Garnishing it all were some cherry tomatoes that tasted as if it were summer.  For the pasta course, there were clams on tagliarini, which had a very subtle orange flavor.

So often the main course is a let-down after the starters, but not our pagello, which is a dorade-type local fish.  The filets were cooked so that the skin was crispy but the flesh was tender and sweet. Accompanying it were lentils cooked with pumpkin and a few flowerets of baby broccoli.  Everything just simple and fresh with no sauces, but all were just what they should taste like.

With all that seafood we wanted a white wine and were directed to a Chardonnay Sancti Valentin from the Alto Adige – 33 €.   It was smooth, not too strong, and rounded out the meal nicely.

For dessert, we were offered an apple torte with house-made apple ice cream on thin, dried apple slices, garnished with one perfect strawberry. img_0044a.jpg A sublime closing to a light, satisfying, and, above all, a delicious repast. The sun streamed in on our table by the window during our entire lunch, making it a delightful and cheery way to spend a few hours, but it also made us long to come back and while away some time eating on the terrace when the weather allows.img_0046a.jpg

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