2008-01-16 / Restaurant of the Week

Cafe Salamanca A TASTE OF SPAIN

79-05 Northern Blvd. • Jackson Heights • 718-458-2446
by Teresa Barile

Warm up your winter with the flavors and aromas of sunny Spain at Café Salamanca. For the past 22 years, Café Salamanca has delighted diners with authentic Spanish cuisine in a

www.cafesalamanca.com www.cafesalamanca.com setting that resembles a typical

courtyard in Spain. Julio Villar, the amiable owner, greets all his customers and invites them to relax and enjoy themselves with a pitcher of red or white sangria, a glass of wine or a cocktail from the bar. A menu of "tapas" or small plates is an ideal way to start the evening. Café Salamanca offers an unbeatable complete dinner special seven nights a week which includes homemade chicken soup, your choice of a one-pound lobster or their famous paella and dessert and coffee all for the amazing price of $21.95. Saturday nights feature live guitar music and singing which really create a fiesta for all to enjoy.

Some of Café Salamanca's wonderful tapas, or appetizers, include a plate of thinly sliced serrano ham and juicy olives, or tender fried calamari rings. Mussels vinaigrette are fresh mollusks topped with a hand-chopped, zesty salsa. Shrimp in garlic sauce is an authentic dish brought in a clay crock, swimming in a delectable garlic sauce that begs to be soaked up with the warm, crusty rolls brought to your table. Pulpo gallega is tender, stewed octopus, seasoned with pimenton and served on a traditional wooden dish. Tender codfish croquettes are crisp on the outside and tender in the middle and are perfect for sharing. Chorizo sausage, clams in green

sauce and their famous stuffed mushrooms are all excellent tapas and can be ordered at the bar, or at your table, and run from $5.75 to $9.50. Villar's lovely wife prepares delicious empanada Gallego, a flaky crust pastry filled with tender codfish, onions, red peppers

and sweet raisins. Sample one of Café Salamanca's

delicious soups, such as caldo Gallego from the north of Spain, or heady garlic soup.

Café Salamanca's menu offers dishes from the various regions of Spain, with a strong emphasis on fresh fish and seafood. One-pound lobsters are available nightly on the Dinner Special, where you can enjoy soup or a salad, entrée and dessert and coffee for an amazing $21.95. Paella Valenciana, a dish practically synonymous with Spain, is prepared in a traditional cast iron pot, with chicken, sausage and rice, or Marinara style, simmered with a melange of fresh seafood including a whole lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels and scallops. The saffroninfused rice, peas and red peppers makes this a complete and satisfying meal. Paella takes about a half an hour to prepare, so put your order in then nibble on tapas and sip on their intoxicatingly good sangria while you wait for this worthwhile meal. Other choices on the fixed price menu include veal Salamanca in a light sauce, chicken in garlic sauce, broiled salmon steak or flaky fillet of sole.

Café Salamanca's a la carte menu features broiled baby rack of lamb which is legendary by now and has people coming back for more of those succulent ribs of juicy lamb ($22.75). Skirt steak or "entrana" is another hot item, cooked to order and served sizzling hot ($19.95). All entrées are served with salad, Spanish rice or hand cut French fried potatoes, which I highly recommend, and vegetable. Moreover, your food is elegantly served tableside by the efficient waiters who tend to your every need.

Café Salamanca has a fabulous, private party room which is completely separate from the main dining room. It has its own bar, d.j. station and restrooms and holds up to 70 people. This festive room would be a great venue for your next special occasion, such as a birthday, anniversary or business event. Complete meals are reasonably priced, so call Julio Villar for details.

Finish your meal with flan, traditional Spanish custard with caramel sauce, a slice of chocolate mousse cake or ice cream with walnuts. Café con leche or Café Salamanca with a touch of brandy finishes the meal nicely. Café Salamanca is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 12pm to 11pm weeknights and until midnight on weekends. Remember the complete dinner special for $21.95, which makes Café Salamanca an affordable spot for quiet, exotic dining. Come for the live guitar player and singer on Saturday nights, when reservations are suggested. Beat the winter blues and heat up your nights at Café Salamanca.

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