The flavours of the Algarve: Atlântico Restaurant at Vila Vita Parc presents a new mouthwatering menu

Atlântico Restaurant offers a vegetarian or pescetarian fine dining experience by chef João Viegas highlighting the freshest ingredients

June 17, 2024 | Text Beatriz Maio

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This new season sees the introduction of a new fine dining concept in one of the Algarve’s most beautiful locations.

With a privileged view over the sea and open to those staying at the resort and outside guests alike, Vila Vita Parc’s Atlântico restaurant provides diners with a unique gastronomic experience.

Presenting a new menu for the season, Algarvian chef João Viegas, from the fishing village of Santa Luzia in Tavira, explores the traditional flavours of the region, both from the sea and the land. The choice is based on two tasting menus, one vegetarian and the other pescetarian, with a choice of four or six courses.

Atlântico Restaurant at Vila Vita Parc - Chef João Viegas
Chef João Viegas

The chef’s professional career, which spans almost 20 years, has included Michelin-starred restaurants in countries such as Portugal, Spain, and Peru, and his talent has been appreciated at Atlântico for the last two years.

“Here the idea is to present Algarvian cuisine with a touch of creativity. We recreate recipes with refinement and delicacy,” he described, emphasising the importance of using local and seasonal products that best characterise the region.

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From the moment you enter the room, decorated with cylindrical glass lamps, comfortable sofas, chairs in blue and green tones, and wave-inspired designs throughout, the feeling of tranquillity is immense. The colours and maritime elements, together with the stunning view over the cliffs, whet the appetite for what follows. Before starting, the chef prepares a treat: a codfish croquette with spices and mushrooms on top, served in a chest as if it were a treasure. And so it is – when we open the box, we are immediately surprised by oyster shells, razor clams, mussels, and cockles on dried seaweed.

The couvert includes wheat and carob bread, accompanied by olive oil produced in Monchique, tomato butter and a special carrot puree flavoured with olive oil, garlic, and coriander, plated in the shape of this vegetable.

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To accompany these typical Algarvian flavours, sommelier Marco Pereira chooses the wine that perfectly matches this sophisticated setting, according to. The restaurant’s primary concern is to “work with the estate’s wines and achieve harmonisation”, he explains, stressing that priority is given to organic products, with a focus on sustainability.

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Atlântico’s wine list includes red, white, vinho verde, and rosé from all regions of the country, including Herdade dos Grous (Vila Vita Parc’s Alentejo estate), as well as Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the US, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa. Their carefully curated selection also includes Champagne and sparkling wine.

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The next part of this soft and delicate menu is a brioche of coastal prawns with coriander and fried garlic, one of the Atlântico’s most famous dishes, served with the mineral and fresh Bairrada wine Água Viva.

As the focus is on recreating iconic recipes from the Algarve, this is followed by an elegant yet traditional version of octopus salad with pickled vegetables that you won’t find anywhere else. This dish is presented in a circular gelatinous form, decorated with pink flowers, green petals, and grated octopus roe made with octopus stock and vegetable cream. For chef João Viegas, including this animal on the menu was a must, to represent the fishermen’s culture and tradition.

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The sensations created by this first course are hard to beat, but the chef does his best with the next dish. A fish tartar, in which the species used varies according to availability and seasonality, topped with barnacles, a green olive paste, shaped just like the real thing, and a delicious orange fish broth.

The wine selection grows more intense with each dish to accompany the burst of flavours. The selection includes wines from local producer Morgado Quintão and Herdade dos Grous, as well as Giz Cuvée de Noirs sparkling wine.

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The fourth course highlights vegetables with fermented leeks served with grilled lettuce and roast pumpkin, drizzled with a sparkling wine sauce, one of the great novelties of this season.

Finally, grilled snapper belly is served with smoked aubergine and coriander rice, and black garlic sauce to finish.

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For dessert, the choice is carrot and orange sorbet, a soft, citrus flavour, with a creamy goat’s cheese yoghurt, citrus crumble, cheesecake, and carrot chips, accompanied by Moscatel do Douro.

For chef João Viegas, it has been a challenge to make customers “feel a bit of the region” with only fish and vegetables. Even though this is already a very complete experience, the chef has the ambition for the restaurant to have its own garden, “where it could grow all or part of the vegetables on the menu”, to further expand the sustainability of the concept.

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Author: Inside Magazines

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