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Zagat: New East Villiage Restaurant Turns Canned Seafood Into Delicacy

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Donostia, a restaurant in the East Village, is turning canned seafood into a delicacy. Zagat editor Molly Moker filed the following report for NY1.

Donostia is the city's first conservas bar, modeled after establishments in Spain that specialize in canned fish and vermouth.

"Conservas, these are normally seafood that's been canned that's been jarred at it's peak," says Jorge de Yarza, co-owner and beverage director at Donostia. "I think all of us remember when we opened our grandma's fridge and had that old can of sardines there, might not have been the best experience. In Spain, though, canning and jarring is an absolute art form. Really, the best product is set aside for canning and jarring."

The bar uses canned goods in everything from open-faced seafood sandwiches to pates made with leftover brine, and of course, there's plenty of fish served straight up.

"Agujas here are nail sardines. They're only fish for 20 calendar days out of the year," de Yarza says. "They're really beautiful, some of the best sardines I've ever had in my life."

Now, for the moment of truth. How does canned fish taste?

de Yarza: The Spanish potato chip, and there you have it.
Moker: It tastes like fresh seafood.
de Yarza: Absolutely.
Moker: I love it.
de Yarza: Have a little sherry if you want to finish.

To wash it all down is the impressive vermouth and sherry program. Donostia has the largest by-the-glass sherry collection in the country, clocking in at 37 varieties.

"We're focusing more on vermouth and sherry drinks, and utilizing some of the products that we're using in the kitchen as well as local ingredients," says . "We have everything ranging from a great selection of vinos all the way to your sweeter sherries, and then also, we're going from really small price points, very affordable sherries, all the way to the very highest ends."

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