Da Arturo Restaurant, Tirana 01-2020

A secret seafood restaurant that isn't known about by anyone except friends and locals? And apparently Italians too as our waiter said 50% of their clients are Italians from word of mouth (and because the owners are Italian). It seems impossible that after 13 years serving up what is considered the best seafood in Tirana, that there are no reviews, no listing on Google maps, and the tourists haven't found it - granted it is maybe also that Albania still hasn't been fully discovered I don't think. And it's a beautiful thing.

Our Airbnb host told us roughly how to find it. Forget Fishop and Fishland and go there instead. On Google map now it is located behind Bar Cafe Tuneli in a passageway with a door that advertises a travel agency. From the main streets you can either turn off Rruga George W Bush at Cafe Aroma or from Rruga Myrtezim Kellici and go straight into the passageway rather than following the road.

As my father went in and made a reservation, they asked him how he knew about the place. They must have been bemused. We went back for dinner the following evening. Luckily our young male waiter spoke broken English, enough to ask questions and order, although not quite enough for us to order properly. Sometimes when two dishes were offered and we wanted one, we got both anyway. In the end even though we wanted just seafood, there seemed to be a good insistence that we try the local Albanian dishes (which would otherwise have been fine had we not already had them before and really just wanted seafood rather than to fill up on those).

Nonetheless it was a grand feast in a simple setting. Warm bread rolls started the evening.

- Marinated artichokes;
- Radish leaves;
- Fergese (blurred in the photo background);
- Cuttlefish, squid and octopus in tomato sauce. Apparently spicy but not really for our palate;
- Pasta like small macaroni but a bit mushy, served with beans and clams;
- Ring pasta much better and slightly al dente, with a good savoury fish that had texture almost like meat;
- Cuttlefish, squid and octopus grilled. Enjoyed this much better than the tomato based version as the charred flavours and unique textures came through. The olive oil was perfect to mop up with a touch of salt and some bread;
- A cutlet of dentice (described as a big fish) was firm and a bit dry;
- A fillet of soil fish was soft and served in a butter sauce. Delicious;
- Sorbet and some fruit finished off the meal.

I was keen on the fish soup, but we didn't end up having any. Similarly they were initially going to serve us 2-4 bits of each fish and we had to tell them not to. We were simply too full.

It isn't cheap by any means, particularly for an Albanian restaurant. Nonetheless 10200 lek (€83) to feed 4 of us more than we could handle is pretty good in the overall scheme of seafood eating life.