Not Paella Marinara. Nor Paella Mariscos. It’s another rice dish from Alicante called Arroz A Banda — literally translated to side dish. But no, make it your main dish. And if you’re having one, feast on it in this place called Casa Benigna in Calle Benigno Soto, 9 right in Madrid. Don’t bother with a map, cab it. Rather hard and complicated to locate it, but trust me, this place that doesn’t look much from outside gets really full.
Best to call and perhaps make reservations if you want to be sure you get seated. The Casa staff here are accommodating but the place can get crowded. They make your paella while you’re served their baked bread and seriously good butter and olive oil. The appetizers can be very filling but be sure to leave room for your paella or arroz.
We enjoyed the bread, olive oil, butter, appetizers, and the rice dishes very much here. Couldn’t be better. Such a great food find. They make most everything here except the vino! They even gave us a tour of the kitchen and the private rooms. You should meet the Filipino staff manning the kitchen. Very well-trained by the Spanish owner-chef. And the decor is very interesting, to say the least. Our spot where we had our main meal was right under a “clothesline” of chef’s uniforms. Very pretty.
I really like how they spruced up the place. From outside, it’s just a door. Once let in, you pass a bar and led into the main dining hall with 5-6 tables and farther in, a couple more private function rooms. The restaurant manager Kuya Eduard Gregorio has been doing this for the last 30 years he’s been in Spain and certainly knows his trade. If we didn’t restrain ourselves, we wouldn’t stop partaking of that really, really good butter when he left the entire tub on our table. (Check out 3rd photo on this page) He also made sure we didn’t leave without trying their own desserts and having dessert wine. He even capped the entire dining adventure with steaming cups of manzanilla. When you dine here, it is like feeling invited to someone’s home. Seriously.
Dining in Casa Benigna is a most pleasant adventure here in Madrid. I’d be back dining here in a heartbeat, just like many of the locals who all seem regular patrons here. It could only be because of the food and service here. But next time, I’d like to try one of the private rooms. Cozy 🥂