Imagine a tucked-away town in South Goa. On the narrow roads, vendors sell fresh vegetables, the sun is shining, and birds are chirping. Welcome to Cavatina, an Italian, Spanish, and Goan fusion restaurant. It envelops you with the smells of all three cuisines blending together to create the most unique dishes I have ever tried. In my opinion, Cavatina by Avinash Martins is one of the best restaurants in India. Let me tell you why.

#1: The Ambiance

As soon as you enter Cavatina, you are immediately transported to a tapas-style bar in Spain. The background's rustic decor and soft jazz music make you feel at ease. Small accent pieces like a green Vespa and a vintage record player catch your eye while you dine.

In my opinion, the ambiance of a restaurant changes the way you perceive the food, and Cavatina nails the Spanish-style feel. The dim lighting and the soft chatter of guests dining make you say, "Wow, this place is something special." But wait till you hear the rest!

#2: The Service

As we ate our first course (a classic Goan bread called poi), our server came out with a bread cart and read a poem to enlighten us about the origins of poi bread. I hadn't realized it was an ancient tradition to eat it for breakfast every day!  

Small touches like these continued throughout the meal. Every dish was served with flair, and the detailed explanation of each plate allowed us to enjoy our meal even more. 

#3. The Presentation

These prawn and chorizo cigars were presented in a custom cigar box. In my opinion, the presentation of these couldn't be classier. Altogether, the light wood, the golden brown crispy cigar shells, and the contrast of the branded Cavatina logo scream elegance and flair. My family thoroughly enjoyed these "cigars," and I'm sure they felt very sophisticated eating them!  

Known as "Nest in the Woods," this jackfruit dish presented in a potato nest and served on a rustic wooden log is a stunner. The dish itself had phenomenal flavors, and my favorite part was that they used jackfruit as a plant-based option instead of chicken! I was truly in awe when this arrived on the table and couldn't wait to dig in! 

#4: The Creativity 

This black rice koyloleo showstopper starts with black rice and charcoal (made from coconut shells!) mixed together to form the taco shell. The inner filling is a prawn balchão packed with Goan flavors! I think this dish is exceptionally creative, not only due to the fabulous presentation but also to the creative use of basic ingredients such as rice. Who would have thought that black rice would make such a good taco shell base?

This is a Goan twist on a Greek spanakopita, a phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach and cheese. Instead of spinach, Chef Avinash Martins stuffs his with a local Goan vegetable called tamdi and seasonal Goan greens. This is a unique way to use traditional food in a non-traditional way! It is no surprise that the presentation is again stunning, with a side of tomato salsa and a tamdi garnish. Even the plate fits the rustic vibe of this dish and compliments it perfectly.

#5: The Flavors

The Kulli cutlets or crab cakes were an explosion of flavors in our mouths! The crab cakes had a mixture of sweet, sour, and salty flavors combined with the unique textures of crispy edges and soft melt-in-your-mouth centers. What set the dish apart was the curry served on the side; it was rich and velvety and elevated the flavors of the crab cakes even more. 

Continuing with the crab theme was the crab bisque, a creamy crab broth with chunks of crab. It is one of the classics on the Goan tapas menu, and for good reason! This dish keeps you returning for more with its velvety texture and rich crab flavor, combined with classic Goan spices. What my family loved most about this dish was its simplicity yet elegance. 

#6: Commitment to Sustainability

One of Chef Martins' mottos is "Eat local, live global." This phrase is powerful because you can eat global flavors, such as his twist on Greek spanakopita, with local ingredients! Eating local is one of the easiest ways to be sustainable and cost-effective, and Martins is setting an example for other fine dining restaurants to follow. 

A direct relationship with farmers is significant when one cares about sustainability. Martins claims to only work with farmers following sustainable practices, which adds to Cavatina's trustworthy reputation. Organic produce is the only kind that enters his kitchen! Ingredients are directly sourced from farmers, and during the pandemic, Martins began meeting with them to find exactly where he was getting his produce from and who was growing it.

I hope you are excited and eager to try Cavatina! It will always have a special place in my heart, and in my opinion, remains one of the best restaurants in India. I cannot recommend it enough, and even if you have to travel far to visit it, just like we did, I promise you won't be disappointed.  

Happy savoring!