Our Story

My grandmother, Elia, was simply elegant. Moreover, she was a fierce and independent woman whom I didn’t give enough credit to. It was only as a woman - and after she had passed - that I came to recognize her strength.

In an era where strength and independence in the “weaker sex” were flaws - not virtues - Elia had both - in spades. She had a perfect balance of grit and poise. 

Elia was a patron of the arts, and a lover of all things beautiful and wholesome. She was personal friends with (and family by her sister’s marriage to) Swiss painter Franz Rederer, landlady of Nelson Freire, and patron of Martha Argerich during her formative years in Vienna. They met each other in Vienna, where Nelson was a tenant in Elia’s home, and Martha often came to play with Nelson and other virtuoso musicians of the time. (Nelson’s piano was delivered through a window in Elia’s high-rise apartment with a crane). 

Andres Segovia was a frequent guest at her home (and my father would play Segovia’s guitar as a young man when he was home). 

It is from her that our family inherits its love for music. 

Elia was from Spain’s Canary Islands, but grew up in Barcelona. She left Barcelona, and Franco’s Spain during the Spanish Civil War to raise her family as an Expat - first in Switzerland and ultimately in Austria. She spent the remainder of her life in Vienna - where the Viennese Cafe was an institution that reminded her of the Cafe Iruña of her childhood trips to Pamplona and the Basque Country. 

She so loved this region of Spain that, at her request, Elia’s ashes were spread in the Cantabrian Sea on La Concha Beach in San Sebastian - in the Basque Country - the autonomous region in southwest France and northern Spain.

Although an ex-patriate for most of her life, Elia loved the people, the culture, and the food of Spain. She was fond of the Basque gastronomy before it had been “discovered” by the world (San Sebastian is today regarded, almost universally, as the culinary capital of the world).

In addition to being one of the world’s major producers of wine, hard cider, cured meats, cheeses, olive oil, and seafood - Spanish cuisine is perhaps best known for delightful banquets comprised of various tapas, serrano ham, succulent paella, and free-flowing wine and sangria. 

Not surprisingly, meals in Spain are an important affair - with late night dinner normally eaten after 9:00 pm (as it does here, the sun sets close to 9:00 pm during the summer months - so late night dinner is a natural consequence of the summer/harvest workday). 

After years of dreaming of one day opening a companion restaurant to Luigi’s (named after my grandfather), it started to feel as though there might never be a good time, and that no place could ever be “quite right” for Elia.

When the opportunity arose to do so in this historic building alongside the beautiful Old Bryan Marketplace, we knew immediately that Elia would approve, and that the time had come - whether we were ready or not. 

We are delighted to be able to share with you the other half of our family’s culinary heritage. 

Now, let's go to Spain….we want to show you something!