Fastuc - Modern Mediterranean With Sicilian Roots
Fastuc restaurant is one of the absolute best discoveries for me this year, hands down. It is one of those great places that still are under the radar, but you know that once people find out it will be the talk of the town.
Fastuc might be relatively new, but it is far from being a novice. There is a robust team both in the kitchen and outside. Chef Giuseppe Cusimano was born and raised in Sicily and began already as a child to help his mother in the kitchen. As a teenager his passion for cooking took him to the UK, where he developed a career in gastronomy, including working in Michelin star restaurants not only in London but also in other parts of Europe. Fastuc is now the culmination of his solid background. The name of the restaurant comes from a union of the Sicilian word fastuca and the Catalan word festuc, meaning pistachio, an ingredient from the chef’s childhood and that makes an appearance in several of the dishes on the menu.
The restaurant is just as friendly and welcoming as chef Cusimano. The bright and natural-light filled space feels cozy, and has a touch of elegance to it. It also has outside seating, on a quiet side street with very little traffic. The staff is very amiable and professional and makes you feel right at home.
The menu begins with dishes to share, and moves on to pasta and risotto, main courses and desserts, and changes on a seasonal basis. There is also a lunch menu available and several tasting menus. Chef Cusimano has Italian roots, but he points out that he wants to step away from traditional Italian cooking into a broader Mediterranean one, with influences and techniques he has picked up along his career. Everything here is made in-house, including all the pasta. It might be surprising to many to see how often Italian restaurants in the city buy their pasta instead of making their own. This is certainly not the case at Fastuc.
We went for a tasting menu consisting of 7 dishes, each one equally stellar. We started with oysters: one with vermouth spheres and the other one with a lime sorbet, topped with tabasco. Both were delicious, but the latter blew my mind. We also had arancini with truffle, mushroom and parmesan, a crispy roll with burrata, basil and anchovies, and a shrimp croquette.
From there we continued to the next first course: a rabbit carpaccio with cherries and crispy turnips. This dish was out of this world, and I still dream about it. Absolutely fantastic. We also had an exquisite shrimp tartar with citrus chutney and basil spheres and a pistachio sponge.
Half of the Barcelona Food Experience team cannot eat gluten or dairy, but the chef was incredibly accommodating. For someone who has had to say goodbye to pasta, Fastuc presents a surprise: a beautifully executed (gluten-free) ravioli filled with sea bass served with a nettle cream, tomato marmalade, zucchini, and fried zucchini blossoms. It almost brought tears to my eyes; it was fantastic. The linguine with Palamós shrimp was also outstanding.
The next dish left me speechless: a lasagna made with crispy, snappy rice layers, potato, and a rich guineafowl ragú, topped with parmesan. So magnificently flavorful. From there we went on to the main courses: monkfish with a licorice marble, monkfish foie gras and beans, and the signature Fastuc dish: tuna with a miso caponata. Both of them beautiful and delicious.
The pre-dessert consisted of three sorbets (also made in-house): lemon, raspberry and blackberry, and the dessert was a gorgeous semifreddo with almond turrón on a (gluten-free) brownie base, topped with chocolate and caramel sauce.
There is plenty to say about Fastuc, but words will not do it justice. Go here for a quick but delicious lunch or a beautiful and relaxed dinner. It is all very reasonably priced, with fantastic value. This is the kind of place you leave with a full belly and a warm heart.
Fastuc, Carrer d’Oliana 14, 08006 Barcelona (Sarrià-Sant Gervasi)