Lauded Spanish chef-restaurateur José Pizarro will open two new restaurants in London this summer, moving in to the Royal Academy gallery in Mayfair. Pizarro will open an eponymous sit-down restaurant in the Dorfman Senate Room, and a tapas-style bar in the current Poster Bar, which will henceforth be known as the Poster Bar by José. Both restaurants will open on 11 August, according to the gallery’s website, with the more formal known as José Pizarro at the RA.
Pizarro will stick to the classics with both openings, bringing his best-known dishes from over a decade in the capital like strawberry gazpacho; Ibérico presa; and leeks with romesco to the sit-down restaurant, according to a report in Hot Dinners. In the tapas bar, expect Galician empanadas; tortilla; a modish truffle sandwich; and jamón. Both sets of dishes will be familiar to diners at his London portfolio, which comprises two restaurants on Bermondsey Street and another in Broadgate Circle.
London’s art gallery restaurant repertoire took a hit in 2020 when Rochelle Canteen — the adored, sleepy restaurant in Shoreditch from Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold — closed its space at the ICA on Pall Mall, but Pizarro is joining the likes of Townsend at the Whitechapel Gallery and the excellent Garden cafe in pushing the food options at London’s institutions above the humdrum. The chef, perhaps cannily, namedropped the RA in a recent interview with SL Man, saying that “I adore both the RA building on Piccadilly and the works contained there. Being Spanish I recognise the dynamic ‘golden triangle’ of galleries in Madrid as the best, but the RA stands comparison with anywhere in the world.”
Pizarro also believes that the emotional responses invoked by food and art are similar: “When you see art, it’s all about how it makes you feel… your whole body responds, it’s the same with food - well, good food anyway!” He’ll be hoping his own restaurant falls into that latter qualification.