Chef/Owner Antonio Alvarez, from Galicia (in northwestern Spain), learned how to cook from Basque chefs on crude oil tankers. In 1984, he opened La Camelia in a Colonial-style former home, built more than 200 years ago. Surrounded by gardens (maintained by Alvarez’s wife, Carolina), the restaurant’s dining rooms include fireplaces, tablecloth-clad tables, Iberian pottery, and candles. Soft lighting lends an intimate, romantic feel (La Camelia is a very popular Valentine’s Day destination).
Customers can choose from authentic Spanish specialties such as gazpacho, tapas (the menu boasts more than 12 varieties, including specials), paella, cod fritters, garlic shrimp, steamed octopus, and trout with Serrano ham and piquillo peppers, as well as a few Continental dishes like bouillabaisse, homemade pâté and gravlax, and wild North Atlantic Dover sole. A traditional rendition, the paella consists of chorizo sausage, ham, chicken, shrimp, clams, mussels, Valencian bomba rice, and saffron. Seasonal specials often star wild game, such as quail, pheasant, poussin, and venison. The desserts, all made at the restaurant, include flan, tarta de Santiago, crème brûlée, ganache or chocolate truffle cake, and fresh fruit tarts (on most Saturday nights, the sweets selection includes about 16 options). A list of roughly 30 wines (the majority from Spain) complements the dishes.
“It feels like walking into the home of some very nice people,” says Bryna Sarokin of Mount Kisco, who has been coming for about 14 years. “The restaurant is pretty and welcoming, with interesting things and wonderful gardens.”
Sarokin enjoys the shrimp, sangria, and dessests. Other frequent customers, including Jimmy Ruvituso, of Bedford, and Dr. William and Francine Rosenthal, of White Plains, praise the seafood. Ruvituso likes the baked oysters and Dover sole, and the Rosenthals enjoy the trout and halibut.
Ruvituso, a customer for more than 20 years, calls Alvarez a “genius,” and swears that he employs the freshest, highest- quality ingredients. “He hand-picks meats from the best purveyors and goes to Hunts Point Market by himself two times a week for fish.” The Rosenthals, customers since the restaurant opened, say that Alvarez is “always doing something new.”
234 N Bedford Rd