Il Paradiso is one of the most intriguing restaurants I have eaten in on Mallorca. Located in Cala Major, just west of Palma, this Italian restaurant sits sandwiched between the Marivent Palace (the official Mallorcan residence of the Spanish Royal family), the Bay of Palma, and a busy road.
The Frenchman and I had passed this restaurant a number of times in the car and had always wondered if it was a roadside tourist trap, or if it could offer a dining experience fit for a king. We did a little research online - Trip Advisor rates it as a Top 10 restaurant in Mallorca (but with two pubs in the top five, we couldn't help but take this ranking with a pinch of salt). But there were enough good reviews (‘breathtaking', ‘top class', ‘hidden treasure') to persuade us that Il Paradiso was worth a visit. It seemed that this was a restaurant to be taken seriously, so we booked a table, dug our glad rags out and headed over.
Valet parking was our first indication of how the evening was going to proceed. A very nice touch we thought, and were soon escorted into the rather wonderful and ornate dining room. As we admired the typically Italian intricate plasterwork on the walls & ceiling we were asked if we would like to dine on the terrace or remain in the dining room. The Frenchman and I eyed the gathering black clouds, and gambled with taking a table on the terrace. With a canopy for protection and outside heaters for extra warmth, it seemed we would be safe. And boy were we pleased with our choice. This has to be one of the best dining terraces on Majorca. High on a cliff top overlooking the sea and facing west, you can hear the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks as you dine. Couples can enjoy extra intimacy by choosing a table on a more secluded curved balcony - brownie points to all men who secure one of these tables for their romantic date.
We started with a very decent cocktail and eyed the storm clouds nervously. Our fellow diners seemed to be a refined kind of bunch - well dressed & elegant with international credentials. But to our relief, the atmosphere felt relaxed and friendly, with no stuffiness in sight.
The very charming waiter introduced himself and served us fresh focaccia with baby onions in red wine, truffled cream cheese and tiny, soft black olives. We began to feel quite grown-up as we perused the refined menu. The focus is on quality Italian dishes, some familiar, others less so, but all sounded simple and elegant. The wine list, unusually for Mallorca, contained only Italian wine - starting around the €20 mark.
I was delighted to find out that there was no traffic noise from the adjacent road; or perhaps I was just distracted by songs from the 80's playing gently in the background. As we enjoyed the sea views, our starters arrived. My finely sliced prawn carpaccio was served with spicy rocket and slices of avocado. It was silky smooth and utterly divine. The Frenchman had some juicy homemade sundried tomatoes served with a very good piece of fresh mozzarella. Both were some of the simplest, yet finest Italian cuisine we have ever been served.
From the elegant starters, we switched to the more homely pasta dishes for our mains. The Frenchman had chosen big wide strands of papadelle pasta with a tomato, prawn, black olives, capers and chilli sauce. Freshly made, it had a wonderful salty tang, and the Frenchman only just held back from licking the bowl. My penne came with strips of beef filet in a creamy marsala sauce with mushrooms, peas and truffles. Billed as the house speciality, it was rich and very filling.
As the pasta had almost finished us off, we decided to share a dessert and we plumped for a white chocolate mousse, with passion fruit and summer berries. The mousse was light and fresh with an almost gooey meringue type texture. The sweet red fruits and the sharp passion fruit made an excellent counter-punch to the mousse. It was a very good dish to finish on.
The Frenchman and I rarely seem to eat in Italian restaurants, as our favourite pasta dishes are so easy to prepare at home. But Il Paradiso has made us think twice about that unconscious decision. Simple fresh ingredients, immaculately prepared and beautifully presented, we would come back to Il Paradiso a flash. The setting is dreamily romantic and you won't be disappointed with the quality of the food. Fit for king? Most certainly.
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