I had a late dinner earlier tonight at Ibiza Tapas & Wine Bar in Hamden which just opened yesterday (Friday). I must admit that I'm extremely biased in favor of this place merely existing, having grown up just a couple of blocks away and having waited at a school bus stop one year at the very corner Ibiza is now located. For those of you also from the neighborhood, it's located next door to what used to be the old Cherry Hill Pharmacy (now a jeweler's).
The restaurant hasn't yet received its liquor license from the state, so I was offered a complimentary glass of Spanish red wine while I perused the 3 page menu. It's tapas, and nothing but tapas: Hot, cold, traditional & modern. And every food item is priced below $10.
I thought I'd start off with two items: the arugula salad, which I've had before at Meigas in Norwalk, and gnocci with braised oxtail., which was new to me. The arugula was the dandelion type (not the baby spinach style), very lightly dressed with an olive oil vinaigrette (every leaf was coated, but no pool at the bottom of the bowl), and 4 wedge slices of manchego cheese. Perfectly simple, and a very generous amount for a tapas.
The gnocci were small, like orichette ("ear-shaped") pasta, and filled with something (I forgot to check or ask), with snow peas, in a sauce from the braised oxtail. Delicious, and again, a generous portion (same-sized bowl as the salad came in; this was from the "large tapas" section of the menu, all $9.75 each).
I would have loved to try others, but I was stuffed from just these two items, dining alone. Needless to say, if these portion sizes remain and are typical for the entire menu, you can easily share each with at least one other person and create your own little feast.
I was offered a complimentary dessert of rice pudding in a martini glass topped with a small scoop of mango ice cream. A very refreshing end to a quick meal on a very miserable, rainy night. The restaurant was about half full, impressive considering the late hour, the rain and the lack of a lighted sign out front. It was noisy and everybody seemed to be having a great time. If you've ever been to this location in its prior incarnation as a Columbian or Vietnamese dive, you'll be impressed by the tranformation of the interior.
Ibiza Tapas & Wine Bar
1832 Dixwell Ave, Hamden, CT 06514
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