This excellent restaurant takes its name from a 15th century palace on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. The owner of the restaurant is from Venice and he’s brought some classy skills to our local restaurant scene.
This is the best Italian food I’ve experienced in Merida. This place could hold its own anywhere. Some things were better than others, but I’d go there again. And again.
Three of us started off with two appetizer plates – the fried calamari, always a barometer of the quality of an Italian restaurant, and suppli al telefono, small fried rice and cheese croquettes served in a brown paper cone.
The bread, I would guess, is made in the restaurant. It’s light, nicely textured and tasty with a crisp crust. There were three pots of butter – garlic, habanero, and red chili, all three with fresh minced flavorings mixed into the butter. The garlic butter was so good, it was tempting to eat it straight.
The calamari was fabulous. It was crisp but not too crisp and had a minimum of carbs coating it. It was seasoned with herbs and pickled onions and capers, a beautiful presentation. We fought over it.
The croquettes were absolutely delicious as well. A light, ungreasy fry. And they are very beautiful. Served with a warm, tomato-based garnish sauce in a little pitcher.
I had the spinach salad, correctly anticipating that the appetizers would be enough for dinner. I have to say that the restaurant’s inspiration ends with the salad. It’s as if they said, Oh yeah, we have to make a salad. It was fresh spinach, a tiny amount of romaine, carrots, and a teeny amount of creamy gorgonzola dressing.
Jack had the seafood risotto, which wasn’t as fabulous as everything else. It tasted fishy and Jack was annoyed because the small shrimps were served with shells intact.
Jim had risotto with Italian sausage which was quite good. However, I like a drier risotto.
After lunch the waiter said to ME, “Do you like chocolate?” What a clever ploy. The chocolate dessert, which I forgot the name of, was wonderful. Vanilla ice cream that tasted home-made accompanied a chocolate-on-chocolate baked cone. When we pierced the baked shell with forks, rich and entirely delicious dark chocolate seeped out. It was served very plain, but the plainness belied the superior taste. The dark chocolate was lightly laced with hot chili, but it took me a moment to realize it.
In fact, all the food was understated and although the dishes were presented attractively, they did not shout Look At Me.
My cappucino was delicious, despite being made with Chiapas coffee, which I usually find acidic.
The waiters had great personalities and may I say that some of them were extremely good looking. Professional too.
The restaurant is on two floors in the Carl’s Junior (Checkers) plaza on the Paseo de Montejo Prolongacion. Easy parking. They open at one p.m. Full bar. The main dining room is upstairs, with some seats on the balcony, but there are some tables on the ground floor. Moderate prices. (A T-bone is 320p; most pasta 150-200p.)