It’s no longer a secret that winter in Ibiza is one of the most wondrous times to be on the island – just scroll through Instagram for proof of the glorious sunny weather, blissfully quiet beaches, cosmopolitan community, magical sunsets and more. When night falls however, those seeking high-level dining experiences and a social buzz need to know where to look and this winter, downtown darling Noja by Cotton Food Lab is the place to be. In January and February, the intimate and chic Japanese-Nordic restaurant teams up with celebrated chef Boris Buono and Ibiza Food Studio for the culinary collaboration of the year – and yes, we know the year has only just begun!
Like all the best meet-cutes, the Noja and Ibiza Food Studio relationship began with a random phone call. Buono, having shuttered his Sa Penya bolthole for winter renovations, was looking for a short-term space to set up shop. “I hate having to close for renovations,” he says. “So many of my faithful customers are year-round island people and I want to have something to offer them.” As he drove through the back streets of Ibiza town just a few weeks ago, he noticed a closed sign on the big wooden doors of Noja and gave Cotton Lifestyle Group impresario and Noja mastermind, Christian Marstrander, a spontaneous call to propose that Ibiza Food Studio move into the location for winter. Ever the creative thinker, Marstrander took the idea next level with a nonchalant: “Why don’t we just do a collab?”
Revered chef Boris Buono will be both hosting and cooking alongside the Ibiza Food Studio chefs and Noja sushi masters – a first in Ibiza’s culinary scene.
Over coffee, the duo nutted out the details and a new gastronomic alliance was born. Marstrander sees it as a happy accident that was probably meant to be. “We are both heavy foodies and both Scandi – I’m from Norway and Boris is from Denmark. We’re both year-round Ibiza residents and while we’ve visited each other’s places, we have never worked together.” The pair share a vision of service and quality, always striving to create – not just dishes but overall experiences for their clients. “There’s not a lot happening in Ibiza in winter,” says Marstrander. “This is something out of the ordinary, something very special we can offer during the quietest time of the year.” Plans came together very quickly and on Thursday January 12, 2023, Noja featuring Ibiza Food Studio opens its doors at 5pm for the opening night of its two-month run.
The dining experience features the new Noja á la carte menu and its omakase( chef’s choice) offering, with highly trained sushi masters slicing and dicing to order. Concurrently, the Ibiza Food Studio team – led by head chef Arno Hendriks – have crafted a bespoke menu that highlights quality local produce in their signature style. The Japanese-Nordic delights of Noja include minimalist red prawn makis, lush beetroot-marinated salmon nigiri, tuna toro or hamachi sashimi, plus blinis with caviar and Norwegian lompe alongside delectable sashimi tartars – a must-try for sushi lovers. Alternatively, diners can tuck into grilled calçots with chimichurri, Formentera langoustine ravioli, Terra Viva Ibiza organic chicken (the first island-produced, certified organic meat), line-caught fish of the day and creative vegetarian options courtesy of Ibiza Food Studio, with the option to add caviar or truffle to most dishes.
Noja and Ibiza Food Studio have reputations for fusing the highest quality ingredients with precision techniques and exceptional service – now, the two combine for something truly out of the ordinary.
As Marstrander attends to the growing Cotton Lifestyle Group empire across Europe over the winter, Buono will step up as host. “Boris will have a front-of-house role, he’s very open and definitely a big part of the experience,” explains Marstrander. Buono relishes the contact he has with his diners and the petite space at Noja is analogous to the Ibiza Food Studio vibe. “I’ll be there hosting and cooking too with the omakase team,” he says. “I’m looking forward to being part of the show.” Marstrander readily admits that this new concept is somewhat improvised and that people should be ready to enjoy the evening, Ibiza style. “It’s an experiment,” he says. “Something fun for everyone in winter.”
As well as his cheerful disposition and obsession with excellence, Buono is also bringing along a selection of the eclectic and extensive wine collection from Ibiza Food Studio – think small batch natural wines with eccentric back stories, classic drops from conventional vineyards and lots of bubbles – so diners can mix and match with the outstanding sake and wine available at Noja. “Boris is really into Champagnes and sparkling wines, so he’ll have a lot of interesting options,” says Marstrander. Enthusiastically expanding on the theme, Buono is excited to introduce diners to les champagnes de vigneron, sparkling drops of goodness made outside of the commercial realm by vintners dedicated to the delicate cultivation and production of champagne sans the demands of multinational marketing.
The intimate space seats just 24 diners at any one time and this exclusive collaboration runs only until the end of February so reservations are essential.
Both Marstrander and Buono see their partnership as a way to give something back to the island in the off-season – giving islanders a chance to get together with friends, dress up a little and enjoy high-level gastronomy even on the darkest nights of winter. But with this calibre of food, service and style – Buono has a history in fine dining including a stint the revered Noma in Copenhagen and Marstrander has helmed his own successful hospitality brand for over a decade – the Noja featuring Ibiza Food Studio pop-up is also a great reason to plan a trip to Ibiza. Whether you’re local and popping in for a convivial après-work aperitivo (the restaurant opens its doors at 5pm from Wednesdays to Sundays), planning a luxe dinner with friends or flying in especially for the occasion, bookings are strongly advised as seats are limited to just 24 diners and will be in hot demand.