Estás aquí

Sa Capella stories - one of Ibiza's most cherished restaurants

We interview Carlos Oliván, manager of the San Antonio restaurants about why this eatery is so special to all its customers.

What made you decide to open Sa Capella restaurant?

"My father and co-founder Vicente Rosello were very close friends and one day they were out looking for wild asparagus when they came upon the chapel, which at the time was empty. Upon seeing it, Vicente a man of many ideas and possessed of a keen business mind, decided that this very distinctive building should be a restaurant that would be different to any other."

You recently found out that the old chapel that houses Sa Capella was actually consecrated. What is the story?

"The Sa Capella building was originally built as a church and was designed for the people who lived around it in the countryside. It was consecrated and used for the odd mass. The chapel had been dedicated to Santa Inés, being close to the Santa Inés cave; however, because the village of Santa Inés and the town of San Antonio had their churches dedicated to that saint, the chapel found itself without parishioners. So, when they almost finished building it, it was closed. It was then deconsecrated and used as a private home."

Carlos explains the history of Sa Capella

What is the one Ibizan star ingredient you cannot do without?

"We go for local products: vegetables, meat and fish. We use Ibizan tomatoes and Ibizan potatoes, which are famous not only in Ibiza but also in Spain. We source a lot of fresh produce from our own garden too so everything is as fresh as possible. We also use lovely red Ibizan prawns. Everything we use is of the highest quality."

Which are dishes are you most proud of at Sa Capella?

"There are classics which have been on the menu for as long as I can remember and are much loved by customers. One star dish is the salt-baked sea bream that's cooked in the oven, then taken to the table where the salt and the bones are removed in front of the client. Then there's the beef with salt, cooked on a hot stone at the table by the customer to their liking. Segovian suckling pig is also very popular. Although we change dishes from time to time, these classic dishes are the ones that clients always ask us for and can never be taken off the menu."

What feeling do you want Sa Capella customers to leave with?

"What all restaurants want, that they feel good, they eat well and that they feel attended to. What sets Sa Capella apart is the friendship we develop with customers: it's like a family. We know many customers by name when they come; some of them have been coming here for 25 years and some of those long-standing customers even have their names on the wall. They always choose the same table and almost always ask for the same dishes. Although some of the customers named on the wall have died, their children and grandchildren continue to come. We watch them growing up, then they turn into adults, come to dine with their girlfriends or boyfriends and we develop the same relationship with them as we had with their parents."

Learning about what makes Sa Capella special

What gave you the idea to offer a bottle of homemade hierbas after a meal and what is the secret of a good one?

"It's something we started a long time ago and we saw very quickly that customers loved it, so we thought, well this is a formula that works. So really, in the end, it was the customers who decided this little touch for us. Whilst we can't give you the recipe, I can tell you that the hierbas we make is more of an intense orange in colour as it uses a bigger proportion of wild thyme; it's very different from the traditional recipes and also a little sweeter."

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to open a new restaurant?

"They need to like the world of restaurants, develop close and personal relationships with people, be very patient and above all: try to treat people well. Also they need to know that some nights you will be quiet and some when you are running around. Essentially though, you need to have the desire to want to treat people well and when you do, they will become loyal customers."

Sa Capella's famous Hierbas Ibicencas

What is your favourite Sa Capella memory?

"There are older couples who have been coming here for years and then one day, one of them sadly dies and they stop coming. Eventually three or four years later, the surviving person in the couple comes back and feels duty bound to come here and tell us about their loss and all their good times here. They tell us that their dear departed spouse would have wanted the other one to make that visit. They don't have to do this, but they do. Many famous people come here and that's great, but this memory is the one that has always had the most impact on me."

Contenido relacionado

San Antonio, Ibiza
desde 00