Postcard from Zaragoza, Spain: Sampling menus from regional vegetables to Neapolitan-style pizza

Above: Casa Lac roasted pimientos del cristal with hake

We’ll start this post exploring a few restaurants in Zaragoza with a leisurely meal at what some claim is the oldest in Spain – Casa Lac – dating from 1825 but with a decor updated sometime during the 19th-century. While Casa Lac features tapas downstairs, upstairs offers old-school, formal, multi-course service – perfect for whiling away time on a cool, rainy afternoon.

The six-course meal suited our mood, but what really drew us was Casa Lac’s reputation for putting fresh vegetables, instead of meat, in the primary spotlight. Ricardo Gil’s restaurant group grows and harvests seasonal regional vegetables, such as borage and thistle, on its own farm on the banks of the Ebro River. Gil says: “Our dishes are full of tradition, but with lively flashes of innovation. This is how we understand our cuisine; this is how we keep it alive.”

Roasting added a rich depth of flavor to the sweet red cristal peppers pictured above, with a tender filet of hake floating at their center. Our favorite course was the simply prepared roasted fresh white asparagus. We were lucky to hit the peak of the short spring season for white asparagus. Its tips barely poking through the soil, the pale asparagus is harvested before the sun has the opportunity to turn the crop green.

Our quest for vegetables also led us out near the university to Restaurante Baobab, which bills its menu as “healthy, tasty and sexy.” After lapping up refreshing bowls of carrot, orange and ginger soup, we ordered eggplant overflowing with mushrooms and a plate of vegetable couscous. We definitely would have wound up there again if we could have snagged a reservation.

Thai restaurants tend to feature vegetables, and Sawadika did not disappoint.

And we certainly were not going to stay somewhere for three weeks without striking out several times for pizza. Leone Pizzeria was in the heart of the historic center, only a block or so away from Plaza del Pilar. Leone’s zucchini salad provided a refreshing option – a bed of arugula stacked with thinly sliced zucchini, shaved parmesan and pesto.

Ristorante Pizzeria da Francesco definitely was off the main tourist route. Pizza pulled out of the woodburning oven in this unpretentious neighborhood spot would have loyal followers even if located in Naples.

The blog promises you one more batch of meals before its final late delivery of postcards from Zaragoza.

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