A week or two ago, the Casual Restaurant Critic had the opportunity to visit, along with his better half and another happy couple, Villa Italia after a long hiatus. The first visit to Villa Italia many moons ago resulted in a poor rating for the Villa, when the staff was beyond indifferent and the food was, as the kids here say these days, “equis” which means it was just whatever.
On this occasion, there was an actual hostess and the group had the pleasure of having a friendly, proficient waiter. The restaurant itself has undergone several renovations, featuring a semi-enclosed area near the street and large additional rooms in the back. Villa Italia has had staying power over the many years it has been on the Merida restaurant scene, and all this renovation proves the point.
The waiter suggested to the Critic that he try one of the daily specials, which was rabbit. Since one can’t eat rabbit in Merida every day, the Critic decided against the pasta winking at him from the menu opted for the bunny. Seasoned, grilled and served with real vegetables and some grilled potatoes, it was a little on the dry side but very flavorful and something different for a change. Others in the party had salads and pastas, all of which looked and (according to them) tasted very good. Presentation was good; perhaps the table was a little small for 4 people.
While there was really nothing to write off as positively negative (!) and the Critic and Party enjoyed the experience, Villa Italia remains in a strange kind of gastronomic limbo in that it is not so unbelievably good that it’s worth raving about, nor is it so absolutely awful that it is worth trashing. Perhaps another visit is in order to try the pastas.
Take it or leave it. From one to five, the Villa gets, from this Critic, a 3.