Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Italian Options in Centro

Trip Advisor list 33 Italian restaurants in Merida and a quick glance tells me I’ve eaten at only about a third of them.  A second glance and recent experience tells me I won’t be eating at the other two thirds any time soon.  This year Oliva Kitchen and Bar got a head start on the newly opened Dadaumpa but the latter will give Oliva a run for it’s money. The battle of the pastas will be interesting to watch and taste. Oliva has a tiny dining room that’s charming and cozy in the 90’s woodsy bricky way.  The roomier Dadaumpa has potential but at the moment has all of the charm of the dining section of an Oxxo and only half the comforts.  At Oliva the kitchen is in the dining room and so the service is good as they can never escape your gaze.  You’re not likely to get one of the six little tables so you’ll most likely wait at the tiny little bar.  You will be rewarded.  La Carbonara seems to be everyone’s favourite dish. Both restaurants offer homemade pastas and I prefer Dadaumpa’s rustic touch to Olivas. At Dadaumpa you should try the classics like putanesca, the arrabiata and above all the spinach and cheese ravioli, but ask for the Sorrentini sauce in place of the cream.  Dadaumpa has not quiet mastered the art of the cream sauce. At Oliva try the hearty Della Nona a yummy ragu or La Mora al Mare with calamari and shrimp in a saffron tomato sauce or my favourite the Raviolis stuffed with portabellos, pecans and Ricotta.  You’d be a fool to have a pizza anywhere in centro except Rafaello’s.  The thin crust pizza cooked in the wood oven on the patio by an equally crusty southern Italian are as good as anything you’ll find in Napa, Brooklyn or dare I say it Milan.  The pizza’s are big enough to share but you should order the anchovies so you don’t have too.  Rumor has it that Oliva is looking for a second larger location.  Dadaumpa has ordered new tables and chairs and has promised to replace the cold florescent lighting and put a candle on the tables…I’d take my own just in case.  Mercifully Oliva delivers, albeit tardily. We recently took out from Dadumpa and the pastas were equally good at home and the environment infinitely more charming.  I look forward to reviewing these restaurants individually as I gain more experience at their tables….or mine.

November 2014  another Italian restaurant has opened on calle 43 x 58 & 60 called La Casa de la Nonna.  Haven't tried it yet.  Tried it and it was absolutely awful.  February 2015