Background: Spending a few days in La Fortuna as part of a 3-week volcano trek across Central America, our tour group stumbled upon this quaint, new Italian restaurant near our motel (Arenal Country Inn) while on a late-night dessert run.
PROS: The good food is reportedly its main asset and selling point. When in the "zone", the chef's cooking verges on the Ratatouille-style -- you know, really going for it and cooking from the heart -- both as ingratiating as it is skilful. Food portions and presentation were more than adequate. Service is excellent, helpful and accommodating. Marvin the waiter is the paragon of friendliness. Lastly, the place has an excellent view of Arenal Volcano from the patio.
CONS: Location is not its best asset. It's just out of town past the first bridge, about 3/4 mile south of the Bull Ring along Rte 702, on the way to the Waterfalls. But then, it was a 10-min walking distance from our motel. Though a classy setup, the place is on the smallish side (8 tables). But what it lacks in space, it makes it up in cosiness. The price range is on the slightly expensive side compared to its peers, setting you back by as much as £10 for some dishes.
DO TRY: The Tiramisu, a classic coffee-flavoured Italian dessert -- It is a velvety creamy-rich melange of layers. The silky layers of mascarpone cheese, whipped cream and ladyfingers meld together to form one playful flavour, and yet is not overbearing. As it touches your tongue, it is at first excitingly tantalizing then, as it glides along your palate, deliciously subtle and finishes with an oh-so comforting aftertaste. It wins your affection right away and then earns your respect at the end. Mama mia! (btw, the best Tiramisu that I've ever tasted was from this little café in Rome near the Spanish Steps.) Also, try the Lomito Pepe Verde steak as well as the Mocha Frappuccino. Yumm!
Verdict: Needless to say, it would be totally unfair to compare a relatively new small-town eatery to a well-established city restaurant from the mother country. But by La Fortuna standards, Café Mediterraneo has already elevated itself from mere mediocrity, stayed a step ahead of the local competition and offer very good Italian food outside of Italy. If you want to splurge, do it here. We visited twice. Recommended. Grade A-minus.
The Eternal Nomad says: "Well done, Geovanny! And good luck on your new venture. Ciao!
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