"Everything on the menu at Perfecto, I would serve in Barcelona," chef-restaurateur Oscar Manresa says. Case in point: Both of the striking anchovy dishes proffered at Perfecto can also be ordered at Casa Guinart, Manresa's casual eatery inside Barcelona's storied market La Boqueria. The pickled boquerones marinate for a day in white wine vinegar and are less salty than the cured anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea. In Spain, a popular menu item combines the two varieties to create what Manresa refers to as a "marriage."
He should know, because in his native Catalonia, Manresa helms more than a handful of popular dining spots. They run the gamut from the upscale Torre d'Alta Mar, situated atop a cable tower in the old port, to 99% Moto Bar, a laid-back affair inside a Harley-Davidson store.
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Each spot has a unique identity, but common denominators, according to Manresa, are top-caliber ingredients, winning cocktails, complementary music, and an element of surprise. His first venture, the nine-table Magatzem del Port, remains open but is run by his brother.
Though he's been in the industry for two decades, Manresa doesn't tire of cooking paella, which works out well considering it's still the most requested dish at his Catalan restaurants. He's quick to point out that Miami's cosmopolitan crowd is more willing to experiment with new flavors than people back home in Barcelona.
Follow Valeria Nekhim on Twitter @ValeriaNekhim