Tucked within one of the numerous shopping centers recently constructed on the i-10 corridor, and located across from the Dominion, Acú Bistro Bar is serving San Antonio residents their trademark pan-Mediterranean cuisine.
Opened by Chefs Karlo Orduña and Jeff Treviño, both Laredo natives hope to utilize their passion for pan-Mediterranean cuisine and incorporate the concept into all of their from-scratch dishes.
“We take a little bit from all the countries around the Mediterranean,” Orduña said. “A little bit of Spain, a little bit of Italy, a little bit of Israel, a little bit of Turkey.”
For several years, Orduña had a catering company in Laredo that served entrees found within the pages of Acú’s menu, before loyal customers encouraged him to open the flagship restaurant.
“My mother’s family is from Bethlehem, so we take a lot of inspiration from there as well,” Orduña said.
In fact, Orduña’s inspiration is deeper than just his mother’s family; she is the namesake for Acú Bistro Bar. A painting of her hangs from the restaurant’s brick edifice. The name honors her cooking abilities and warmth towards accommodating guests.
The design of the modest structure is an open kitchen concept, permitting cooks and wait staff visibility of the customers and control over the floor in terms of quality. The decoration and fixtures feel homey, and lack no pretensions — a welcoming environment, especially for the golfers practicing their stroke across the freeway at the Dominion.
Near the bar, a massive wood fire oven yawns, covered in decorative tiles. The oven reaches 1,000 degrees and is primarily used for pizzas, which take approximately 90 seconds to cook. Ribeye, tomatoes, vegetables, and potatoes are also roasted. A cooler side of the oven at 600 degrees is reserved for a chocolate molten cake that houses a hot pudding at its center.
A pile of wood is stacked in a corner; each piece will be used in the oven. Wine bottles and greenery are intermixed within the pile of oak and pecan — the latter utilized to impart more flavor to the food.
Acú’s menu is a variety of pizzas, pita and seafood, but the signature dish is paella — the biggest seller during Orduña’s catering days. The Spanish staple is created by cooking the chicken and pork until browned. Then, sofrito (a blend of onion, garlic, and parsley) is added with chorizo. Rice follows and the entrée is glazed by white wine, followed by saffron stock. Once mostly cooked, seafood finishes the paella, and remains moist.
For dessert, baklava — a sweet egg-roll made of layers of kelado (or Greek dough) that’s paper thin. The baklava is covered by four or five sheets and rolled up within a walnut/pistachio mixture that composes the center, before soaked in a cinnamon honey glaze, creating a crunchy and delectable composition.
“Everything’s been researched for years,” said Treviño, who had several pizzerias throughout the Austin area. “We’ve prepared and thought about these dishes non-stop. Our menu is a lot of old world recipes. Very simple, traditional flavors.”
“This is a dream come true.”
If Acú Bistro Bar is a success, the owners hope to open several restaurant locations around the area.
Happy hour runs from 3-7 p.m., Monday through Friday. The restaurant is located at 21715 I-10 East, Suite 111.