Williamsburg's La Tienda hires executive chef, expands menu

Daily Press


December 20, 2016

Jonathan Black

A specialty grocery store in Williamsburg has expanded its offerings and hired a new chef.

La Tienda recently celebrated its 20th anniversary since starting as a mail-order business in Toano. Jonathan Harris currently runs the store with his father and brother.

"My father was in the Navy so we were stationed in Rota, Spain. We fell in love with the country and the people," Harris said. "We decided to start a business to share our love of food from Spain."

La Tienda's online offerings include a selection of meats, cheeses, olive oils, wine and tableware.

It expanded six years ago to include a brick-and-mortar store and small restaurant serving tapas, which are appetizers and snacks in Spanish cuisine.

"We weren't sure what to do with the space so we started offering more services and opening it up as a tapas bar two days a week," Harris said. "It grew organically."

The popularity of the tapas resulted in increased hours, a more diverse menu and the hiring of Ika Zaken as executive chef.

Zaken, who formerly worked at Williamsburg Winery, is originally from Israel.

"I want to incorporate some of the Jewish influence of the Spanish kitchen ... Some dishes that I discovered at home and are originally from Spain," Zaken said. "What I'm trying to do is add things we don't have in Williamsburg."

Offered at the bar are dishes like shakshouka, a stew of tomatoes, peppers and paprika topped with poached eggs. Other notable Spanish foods include paella, a rice dish filled with saffron and seafood, and bacon wrapped dates stuffed with manchego cheese.

Zaken said he's hoping to include more vegetarian-friendly fare in the menu.

"A lot of the things on the menu were not vegetarian friendly," he said. "I want to introduce to the people that the Spanish also eat vegetables. They don't only eat pork."

The restaurant has added a lunch menu and increased dessert options.

"Going back to the Mediterranean makes me more happy," Zaken said. "I'm trying to do things that are a lot of different: more colors, more vegetables, more happy food."

La Tienda is located at 1325 Jamestown Road in Williamsburg. More information can be found at latienda.com or by calling 800-710-4304.

The tapas and paella bar is open 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

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