One thing I've learned from my travels is to never try and second guess how you will feel about a particular restaurant. It's only by eating there yourself that you really know what it's going to be like. It may seem obvious but sometimes highly rated places you have high hopes for can ultimately disappoint. The opposite happens too. I had anticipated that Messina in Marbella would be a solid (recent) one star restaurant that would be pretty good. But I was not prepared to be blown away. We were! The food is excellent here. Especially the mid part of the meal of seafood, prawns, sea urchin, eel and crayfish dishes are exceptional, perfectly matching our own tastes. Chef Mauricio Giovanini and his wife, Pia Ninci (the maitre d') were away too. In their absence, the front of house and the kitchen performed admirably, a faultless meal with the superb service. The restaurant in the evening is romantically lit but this is not conducive to the best food photography so please excuse the lack of photos.
We sampled the slightly longer Menu Messina. (Priced at 78€).
Creamy parsnip with foie gras shaves.
Typical Malaga's preparation with cauliflower and pistachio.
Typical Argentinean manioc flour and pesto bread with marinated sardine.
Sea urchin mi cuit and celery water. A beautifully simple combination, the rich sea urchin blends so well with the celery.
Shrimp and cold gazpachuelo. Eel, foie gras and cold dashi (an extra course).
Crayfish, coconut and red cabbage.
Scarlet shrimp served with orange and basil sauce, pine nut and beans sprout. Boned Lobster: Body, head and pincer prepared with piquillo peppers sauce and the tartar.
Red Mullet with typical Argentinian sweet corn stew.
Thin slices of cured Iberian pork, creamy chilli and macadamia nut yoghurt.
Shredded Malaga's baby goat. (This was fine but we didn't love this course quite as much as the rest).
Desserts were lovely too. Green apple: sorbet and verdejo.
Red apple: Roasted ice cream with sponge cake and white chocolate ganache.
Creamy black and milky chocolate, dulce de leche and peanut.
We were so impressed with Messina, it was the icing on the cake of our final night in Spain,
In 2014, the Spanish newspaper ABC awarded Messina the 'Best Creative Cuisine Restaurant in Spain'.