Due Spaghi, Italian bistronomy is conquering Barcelona

32-year old Paolo Mangianti from Domodossola seduces Cataluña what with salted cod cotechini and chard millefoglie

32-year-old Paolo Mangianti from Domodossola, chef

32-year-old Paolo Mangianti from Domodossola, chef at Due Spaghi in Barcelona, a successful sustainable zero-waste experiment conceived with Nicoletta Acerbi and Toni Pol

Finding some space in Barcelona’s culinary scene is not easy. The city has with the highest density of restaurants per square metres in Spain. It is overcrowded with a pulsating, lively, changing gastronomic offer. In the aggressive growth of the restaurant offer in the past few years, which even the economic crisis couldn’t halt, perhaps the type of restaurant that found it harder to express itself was small gourmet places, creative cuisine bistros. While these are helping many Italians shine in Paris, in the Catalan capital they are still finding it hard to emerge.

Due Spaghi has just turned 3 and is the prize for those feeling they’re missing this culinary offer. A dozen tables, warm and informal setting, laid back atmosphere. The name should not mislead you, nor the small size of the place or the invitation to enjoy an Italian-Catalan experience: Due Spaghi is a treasure chest full of varied surprises.

Once-photographer Nicoletta Acerbi, originally from Reggio Emilia, and Toni Pol, her partner, a lifetime spent in the dining room and a desire to have a place of his own where he could make clients feel at home, had the initial idea. A few months after opening they met chef Paolo Mangianti. Born in Domodossola 32 years ago, after catering school in Stresa he acquired experience in resort Borgo San Pietro in Siena and at Hotel Bellevue in Stresa. He then went on a long trip around the world, with important stops in Switzerland, Kazakhstan and Australia. After years working in not very famous kitchens, he returned to Europe with the desire to give new light to Italian high quality dining. Love brought him to Barcelona, destiny to Due Spaghi.

Mangianti’s Salted cod cotechino

Mangianti’s Salted cod cotechino

With the arrival of Mangianti, the tripod supporting the philosophy of the restaurant is complete and acquires impulse: sustainable, healthy gastronomy, with the primordial origin of products (the restaurant has the Km0 Slow Food certification), the significant complicity of producers, mandatory seasonality, zero waste. The idea of an informal place where you can eat “due spaghi” [a forkful of spaghetti] in good company continues to permeate the setting, yet the cooking has acquired significance and restaurant and service have consequently evolved, though keeping their characterising family approach.

The cooking is contaminated. They work with small local producers and import the best Italian artisanal products directly; excellent raw materials processed by a very talented chef with a strong desire to experiment and great attention to reusing materials. The seeming simplicity of the initial offer gave life to long recipes that were then transformed into great dishes, where nothing is left to chance.

This results in truly surprising dishes of which I’ll name a few I had the pleasure to taste on my last visit, such as the Chard millefoglie, the purity of just one product, after a very long and detailed preparation (4 kg of chards making 10 portions!), served with a demi glass made with the stalks.

Or the Scallops à la catalana, in which the very soft mollusc is paired with a mousse made with serum from buffalo milk mozzarella and by the personal interpretation of Catalan style spinach, pan fried with clarified butter, macadamia nuts and currants. The superb Pacchero filled with chicken and artichoke in which the pacchero takes the place of the traditional Catalan cannellone, filled with meat and locally produced artichokes, paired with two sauces: a béchamel with chicken demi glass and the memory of a royale made with entrails and chocolate. This is paired with a broth made with Parmigiano served in a cognac glass with a brush of liquorice that changes aroma and texture in the course of the tasting.

Chard millefoglie

Chard millefoglie

The delicious Salted cod cotechino is equally surprising, putting together 10 different ways of processing seafood, wrapped in its skin and served with a mayonnaise made with salted codfish collagen, Maiorca salami confit, purple cauliflower couscous and shitake mushrooms.

The tasting ends with the Mousse of mascarpone and artichokes which, under a cloud of crystallised artichokes hides a heart of walnut ice cream, touches and balsamic and coffee crumble. There are many more dishes to taste, including the Gin Tonic al piatto, the most popular dessert at the moment, but I’ll leave it for the next time, which is soon to come. 

The cellar is fed by the many relationships the owners have developed with Catalan and Italian producers; natural, biodynamic wines, sometimes ecologic, sometimes not, but most of all wines they love and they present to their guests with equal love. Guests who are everyday more willing to be involved i their passions. Due Spaghi is only 3-years-old, a short life for the extraordinary evolution of this place that has conquered the heart of gourmet Barcelona.

Due Spaghi
calle Sepúlveda, 151
Average prices: entrées 10 euros, main dishes 18, desserts 6 euros



A craveable and curious journey between Barcelona, Italy and Paris, from Angela Barusi