Cozumel, Mexico: La Cucina Italiana, Restaurant
Cozumel Mexico has known the Tarroni family since they settled here in 1986. What they brought with them was their rich heritage of home spun culinary delights. Anyone who has lived here for any length of time knows Signora Laila Bragina Torroni can tell you that she is simply the best Italian chef on the island. Her recipes and heritage originate from Pesaro, Italia where food is prepared with pride and love for the art.
In fact; she inherited her love of cooking from her mother and father who I met in 1987. If you think introducing Italian cuisine to a Mayan culture like Cozumel Mexico is hard today, you should have known them back then! It was almost unheard of; the thought that an Italian restaurant could ever survive here on the island. However, the families tenacity and love of cooking has withstood the test of time.
Each day at La Cucina Italiana, Restaurant the buffet menu is different. Today (March 20th, 2008) we had Chicken Parmesan, Tortolini with a delicious homemade tomato sauce (a secret recipe to be sure) and a freshly tossed green salad with an Italian vinaigrette dressing that was absolutely delicious. They also brought some chopped mushrooms and string beans that were obviously marinated in yet another mouth watering mixture of herbs and spices with a hint of olive oil. A pitcher of "Jamaica" (which is made from the hibiscus flower) was always full and the service was impeccable. Of course the garlic bread was simply the best. Who would ever think that something as simple as garlic bread could taste so uniquely good. My guess is that some cheese was added; although it is only a guess.
The service is buffet style only with a twist..... At first you are seated and then you are served your "Jamaica" pitcher which is ice cold and delicious. Today's soup was minestrone that was thick with vegetables' mixed with pasta. Once again the flavors were unique and stunningly pleasant. After you are finished Signora Torronis' grandson and granddaughter will come and take your bowl and spoon while leaving the rest of your place setting so that you can continue on your Italian culinary odyssey.
At this time you then walk up to the buffet and simply point to the delights that are most appealing to you. Since the pasta is all hand made and done "al dente" (to perfection), it is hard to go wrong. If you get a chance you really must try one of her VERY special hand made raviolis. Some days they will be made with spinach and cheese and other days they may be stuffed with apple and goat! One thing is certain, her raviolis are the best on the island.
After a wonderful meal I was asked if I wanted one of their deserts of the day. Today's choices were chocolate cake or flan (which is actually a Cuban specialty desert). I had to decline because I was fully satisfied with the meal that we just ate. One thing that is a must; if you ever get a chance to have her homemade Tiramisu. It is absolutely the best I've ever had.
This was the first time that I've eaten Signora Laila Bragina Torronis' food in years. However, I can assure you that it will not take me years to go back for my next adventure in Italian cuisine.
I saved the best part for last................... I was absolutely astonished to find out that all of this wonderful food in this most charming setting was only 60 pesos ($6.00 US per person). That in and of itself is unbelievable. She completely redefined the term "you get what you pay for".
La Cucina Italiana is a must visit and eat while on vacation on Cozumel! Bon appétit! Or should I say "Buon appetito".
Lunch/Dinner is served Monday thru Friday stating at 1:00 PM sharp and lasting until 5:00 PM.
They are located on Calle 6 Between Ave. 10 and 15.