If there was anywhere in Ibiza that was going to be the perfect fit for Bottega Il Buco – the chic sister venue of legendary New York stalwart Il Buco founded by Donna Lennard and Alberto Avalle back in the early 90s – it was bound to be Santa Gertrudis. The vibrant village’s picturesque streets and plazas are notoriously trendy — it’s where hip young things with kids in tow congregate alongside the stylish local set, and where the world’s avant-garde restaurateurs set their sights for exciting new openings. It’s no surprise that since it opened its doors five years ago, Bottega Il Buco has become a firm favourite among a cosmopolitan, local and international crowd.
This season, there’s a new team at the helm of Bottega Il Buco, promising to elevate the Ibiza restaurant to new heights. Max Rivera Papic takes on the role of head chef – having started his career at the famed Cinco hotel and restaurant in Santiago, Chile, he also trained alongside the famed Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London and has a slew of other high-profile strings to his bow. Meanwhile, husband and wife team Hernan Rodriguez Tabacco and Cecilia Sanchez join the crew as general manager and chef de cuisine, bringing with them years of experience working in revered hotels and restaurants across Latin America, including Francis Mallmann’s Garzón.
In many ways, this marks a new dawn for Bottega Il Buco, but what remains the same is the brand’s dedication to the finest quality Mediterranean fare. It’s the first place on the island to boast a Roman-style focacceria, for instance, and the restaurant specialises in a simple but delectable menu designed to take diners on a culinary journey of the Mediterranean, created using ingredients sourced from local artisan producers in Italy, Spain and Portugal.
The daily menu includes wooden sharing boards of salumi and cheese accompanied by the restaurant’s signature delicious freshly baked focaccia, while fresh and tasty starters include house-made ricotta with fresh cherry tomatoes, anchovies and garlic chips, plus a light and summery hamachi crudo with avocado, mandarin, cilantro and jalapeño.
Lunch and dinner at Bottega Il Buco are taken in the restaurant’s charming and intimate surrounds, where conversation flows freely among friends and strangers. The venue’s interiors have been designed as a natural extension of owner Donna Lennard’s New York restaurants and Il Buco Vita, her homewares line of Italian artisan tableware and antique decor. Inside, guests amass around vintage tables topped with pretty vases, while pops of azure blue — the restaurant’s signature colour – accent awnings and details throughout, unifying the space and paying homage to the nearby sea. Outside, diners gather beneath the endless blue skies, watching the world go by.
There’s a range of healthy yet hearty summer salads that sing with flavour – choose between roast beetroot with toasted hazelnuts, or zingy rocket, pecorino romano and mandarin, or the much-loved panzanella with tomato, cucumber, homemade croutons, anchovies, olives and fresh basil. Mains are also filled with freshness and include options such as organic local chicken confit with sage butter, roasted potatoes and fresh salad; the ever-popular spaghetti neri alle vongole and branzino (sea bass) with salmoriglio, white beans and roasted radicchio. Saving room for dessert is highly recommended, with the flourless chocolate cake and a chamomile and laurel panna cotta with local honey and bee pollen pairing perfectly with Bottega Il Buco’s expertly made coffee.
Good news for Bottega Il Buco lovers is the new that the menu is also available in picnic form, in collaboration with Ibiza Runners. Ideal for hazy days spent atop warm sands or long, languid villa lunches, every item on the menu can be packed up and dropped off to private homes or holiday fincas. A catering and waiter service is also available on request for weddings, special events and parties, while for gastronomy-on-the-go, a selection of light bites including tasty focaccia sandwiches, made fresh in the restaurant each day, couldn’t be better suited for beach days.
Ask any island resident and they’ll tell you Bottega il Buco makes the best focaccia in the business. Created using Triticum durum, an ancient grain sourced from Sicily, the deliciously salty and chewy bread is low in gluten and therefore easy to digest. Chefs cut slabs of the doughy goodness with scissors, according to taste (and the size of your appetite), but as part of the picnics, pieces can be packed alongside a selection of imported salumi, cheese, conservas (tinned gourmet goodies) and pickled vegetables, along with your choice or red, white or rosé wine, expertly curated by Il Buco’s long-standing resident wine expert, Roberto Paris.
Diners keen to get their hands on another slice of the deliciously moreish bread can also browse the onsite alimentari for snacks to consume alongside the Mediterranean staple. Shelves overflow with high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars; colourful tins of anchovies and sardines; cheeses and charcuterie. It’s a masterclass in effortless but impactful Bottega Il Buco dining that puts the king of Italian breads at its heart. New York may be this restaurant’s founding city, but there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Ibiza is its spiritual home.