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Two new Mediterranean restaurants Bodega and Ballers opening in Cardiff

Pictured: Sophie Pascoe and Benito Martinez

Two family-owned restaurants are getting ready to open their doors to the public for the first time on December 1st.

Situated side by side, Bodega wine bar and restaurant will be joined by a second branch of Ballers pizzeria (the first outpost is situated in Heath); both restaurants will be bringing a taste of the owner’s Spanish heritage to the leafy Cardiff suburb of Lakeside.

Both businesses are owned and operated by Sophie Pascoe and Benito Martinez; the couple also operate The Priory hotel and restaurant in Caerleon.

Bodega: A Culinary Celebration of Fire, Fine Wine, and the Mediterranean

Bodega, Cardiff.

Bodega, seen within the family as the little sister restaurant to The Priory in Caerleon, will specialise in small plates cooked using the elemental forces of smoke and fire. The menu is a homage to Spanish heritage bringing in influences from across the Med;

The chef’s table at Bodega, Cardiff.

The chef’s table will also sit at the heart of the space allowing guests a front-row seat for the theatrics of cooking with fire.The menu leans into Benito’s Mediterranean heritage; split into snacks, small plates and sharer plates, there are options no matter how hungry you are. Highlights include the Colchester oyster with pickle and Cava granita, sobrasada croquetas with date puree, the Welsh dry aged sharer sirloin with burnt onion butter and of course, the firebrick chicken (cooked in the impressive brick oven) with miso, harissa and romesco.

A flatbreads menu boasts the house favourite of pear, hazelnut and manchego, and a short menu of sweet plates is on offer too; once you’ve tried Basque-style cheesecake cooked in a brick oven, there’s no turning back!

Complemented by a thoughtfully curated selection of wines available by-the-glass (thought to be the largest by-the-glass collection in Cardiff), Bodega promises an intimate dining experience and a laid-back ambience.

Ballers: Neapolitan Pizzas with a Spanish Twist

Adjacent to Bodega, Ballers emerges as Cardiff’s newest pizzeria, promising a delightful fusion of hand-stretched Neapolitan-style pizzas with Spanish influences and ingredients.

Ballers Lakeside will build on the success of the Heath outpost (currently outdoor only), which is locally loved for its fusion recipes like the El Espanol (the Spaniard), made using San Marzano tomatoes, Fior Di Latte Mozzarella, Manchego Cheese, Chorizo, Salchichon, and Lomo (cured pork tenderloin).

Ballers, Cardiff

A Family Affair

Both Bodega and Ballers restaurants (along with The Priory in Caerleon) are operated by Sophie Pascoe and Benito Martinez; the couple are both Cardiff natives, and already have deep roots within the local hospitality scene.

Benito is the son of Galician-born Benigno Martinez, who opened popular Cardiff restaurant Le Monde in the mid-1980’s (a venue which is still going to this day and is now independently managed by Benito’s brother).

Meanwhile, Sophie is the owner of Studio Severn, an interior design agency specialising in bars, restaurants and hotels; in the last 18 months Sophie has helped venues like Uisce by Tommy Heaney (Pontcanna), The Hive Townhouse (Aberaeron), and Silures (Roath) with redesigning their spaces, whilst continuing to deliver projects across the UK and internationally. With these new openings, Sophie’s been able to put her own stamp on two brand-new spaces, designing them from scratch within the purpose-built units at Amber Vista’s new development.

She said, “These were two very distinctly different spaces to design! Whilst with Bodega the intention was to create an intimate, atmospheric ambience with design nods to big sister restaurant The Priory; for Ballers it was all about building an identity which represents our cheeky, yet sophisticated pizza brand. It has been quite the challenge to bring these to life side by side whilst also juggling client commitments and deadlines, but here we are – almost ready to open and it’s all been worth it.”

Benito – a self-confessed foodie at heart – added, “We are thrilled to be getting not one, but two new venues open in time for Christmas. It’s a chance to build on what we’ve already created at The Priory and introduce a new Cardiff audience to the kind of food we love to eat. We’ve worked extremely hard to assemble a brilliant team and have been working with suppliers and partners behind the scenes to perfect the menus. We can’t wait to welcome people through the doors to see what we’ve created.”

Reservations for Bodega are now open for tables from 1st December at https://www.bodegawine.bar.