The cuisine at New York’s Donostia brings España to the Big Apple: By specializing in pintxos, which hail from Basque region, the restaurant seeks to highlight traditional flavors and cooking techniques from northern Spain.
Often categorized with tapas, pintxos follow a different serving process: According to José Luís Muguiro Jr., Brand Ambassador for Spanish winery Marqués de Riscal, “pintxos are often presented atop a slice of bread with a toothpick, whereas tapas are presented as a smaller version of a traditional dish.” (“Pintxos comes from the word pinchar, which means ‘to pierce,’ hence the toothpick,” he adds.)
The oldest winery in the Rioja DOC, Spain’s most prominent wine region, Marqués de Riscal has collaborated with Donostia on its “Pintxos Please” summer tasting menu, pairing its wines with the restaurant’s Spanish bites. “[Donostia] takes the same approach to preparing the highest quality of Basque-style cuisine as Marqués de Riscal does with creating its wines,” Muguiro says. “They have a true understanding and respect for the northern region. The partnership was truly a match made in heaven.”
To skew the menu toward the traditional, Donostia owner Marissa Miller says the restaurant gets its ingredients straight from the source. The jamón, salt-cured cod for the brandada de bacalao, and conservas (tinned preserves) used in the restaurant’s dishes all come directly from Spain, with the seafood conservas sourced mostly from Espinaler outside Barcelona.
In turn, Marqués de Riscal provides six wines to complement the fresh, summery flavors of Donostia’s tasting menu: its 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 Rueda Verdejo, 2016 Rosado, 2012 Reserva, 2005 Gran Reserva, and 2010 Baron de Chirel. “The flavors of Spanish pintxos come from what is readily available in the Basque region, as do the flavors in the wines,” Muguiro says. “Their flavors pair beautifully with one another.”
Regarding pairing options, the montadito de pulpo (octopus) with the rich and refreshing Rosado stands out as Muguiro’s favorite. “Growing up in Spain, this dish is a comforting reminder of home and the warm, lazy summer days,” he explains. Other popular pairings include the Rueda Verdejo with the bonito tuna salad and brandada tartaleta or the Sauvignon Blanc with the gilda banderilla, while red wine drinkers prefer the Reserva with the tortilla de doble capa. Muguiro emphasizes that “this menu is not trying to hop on the bandwagon of some new passing food trend”; instead, it aims to celebrate the spirit of pintxos, which Mugurio summarizes simply as “togetherness.”
This summer menu will only be available at Donostia until Labor Day, but Mugurio says Marqués de Riscal plans to bring their portfolio’s Basque-inspired flavors to other chefs and restaurants across the U.S. this fall. For more information on the menu, visit donostianyc.com, and for more information on the wines, visit marquesderiscal.com.