María José San Román is Alicante’s only Michelin-starred chef, and she earned it the hard way. Having trained with top Basque chefs Martín Berasategui and Juan Marí Arzak and worked at the Cellar de Can Roca in Girona, San Román has developed a sophisticated style all her own that is grounded in the local Levantine gastronomy. The restaurant is named for the indigenous black grape of the area, and the chef probably uses more Alicante saffron in her cooking than any other chef in Spain. In fact, she’s celebrated for finding innovative ways to use saffron to enhance flavors without imparting the characteristic aroma. Main dishes draw on hearty cooking of the interior (roast lamb with crisp red peppers and bread crumbs) as well as the coast (tuna neck confit with potato sauce and sea vegetables). The Monastrell Barra on the same premises offers an innovative tapas menu inside a sleek room with walls made of slate.
- Frommer's Staff