The Casual Restaurant along with BetterHalf, MiniCritic and NewAdditionCritic met at the latest pizzeria in Merida, which of late have been popping up all over the place. There was a time when you could only eat pizza at Messinas, then the chains came with their corporate American style pizza, then Boston’s arrive to reaffirm one’s faith in the possibility of a good chain restaurant pizza and then the Italians who were getting tired of sand in their pasta and hurricanes on the Riviera Maya themselves came and said what the hell are all these crappy excuses for pizza and started making the fantastic crispy thin crust version that you can now find all over Merida from El Centro to El Norte (de Merida).
After that run-on sentence, perhaps it’s time for the restaurant critique portion of this essay.
Scatola is the newest of the Italian thin crust pizza places, having just opened the day before yesterday. In fact, there was no one else in the restaurant except for one table and the hosting and wait staff was apparently glad to see someone and made a real effort to be welcoming and friendly. As is always the case in Merida restaurants, a solid training program would make these friendly people much more professional and basic errors, such as reaching across the front of the client to place a glass on his/her left therefore subjecting said client to back, shoulder and arm in face as well as thumb getting dangerously close to food on plate, could be avoided.
The food, mainly appetizers and pizzas, was great. The mushroom appy has real, thick and juicy mushrooms, cooked to plump perfection with chipotle chile and what the Critic supposes is olive oil. Delicioso. The salmon carpaccio is not razor thin and could be a little more marinated/flavorful for the Critics’ taste, but if this is the way they make it here, who is he to argue. Critic prefers the La Tratto version of this dish, where it is thinner and has a little more flavor for some reason. The third appetizer was the Mejillones al Tequila. It seems that mussels are another item that is popping up on menus all over Merida and while these ones are very tasty indeed (and huge), the flavor of the spicy cream sauce of the mussels at Hennesseys are still the Critics favorite. However, the Scatola mussels hold up well in comparison, especially if you can tilt the dish they are in and get some of that broth to dribble over each mussel before popping it into your mouth.
Pizza: The group ordered three pizzas. A vegetarian pizza, which looked really great but the Critic wasn’t in the mood for anything remotely health-friendly; a Spanish pizza, with fresh red onions on top of some ham, olives and other goodies and the BetterHalf favorite: the Cold Cuts Pizza. Pizza de carnes frias, which was a sodium packed treat with delicious and quality cold cuts like jamon (not FUD or BAFAR brands thank you very much).
Now the more careful reader among you might be thinking “How can this pizza be the BetterHalf’s favorite since they just opened the day before?” Well it turns out that Scatola is a chain of restaurants operating under the same name, with locations in Campeche and Puebla, among others, and BetterHalf had eaten at the Campeche location and loved it.
No desserts were ordered as the food was just too filling and there was nothing light and fresh on the menu; mostly cheesecake, creamy things that one would need to leave room for. A sweet clericot was offered for dessert, compliments of the house. Very nice.
A couple of glasses of over-chilled Concha y Toro wine (some confusion exists about which wines are available by the glass) and some refrescos and the food above, came to 900 pesos for four people.
La Scatola is located across from Tacos PM on the Prolongación del Paseo de Montejo, in that part of the city that some new NOB arrivals don’t like to visit because it’s not the “real” Merida. And you all know how the cantankerous Mr. Lawsons feels about that misguided perception so the Critic will not comment further.
Enjoy your pizza!