The Casual Restaurant Critic and his always lovely Better Half on this occasion, now that dining in restaurants is again possible, decided on having a Sunday lunch at Teya Viva in the sparkling Paseo 60 complex that features an ADO bus terminal, an Armando Manzanero museum and a snappy business hotel along with a slew of restaurants, most of them repeats or branches of other locations.
One of these is Teya Viva, the city cousin to the popular Hacienda Teya just outside Merida on the Cancun highway, where Queen Sofia of Spain once visited the Cárdenas (hacienda owners) family on a visit to the Yucatan. Another fun fact: the Hacienda Teya was the first hacienda to be restored for use as a restaurant and social events venue, by a visionary Yucateco, Jorge Cárdenas Gutiérrez.
Run by Jorge’s grandson, and featuring a menu full of Yucatecan classics and a gourmet special sheet designed by local chef Roberto Solis (he of Nectar fame), this very fancy restaurant is an excellent choice for when you want an upscale location with great local food. The Critic much enjoys the drive out, but all things considered, the city version is a different enough experience that it doesn’t feel like betrayal.
On this occasion, two Yucatecan classics. First up, the Pan de Cazón, which was very filling and excellent. Halfway through, the Critic asked for an extra helping of the flavorful tomato sauce which was the perfect complement to the bean-y tortilla and fish as it got a little dry at that point. The Better Half ordered up what the Critic had had the day before at the always remarkable Kinich in Izamal: Queso Relleno, also very good. Preceded by a fairly decent Sikil Pak dip the meal was accompanied by cerveza and Topo Chico mineral water.
Enjoy the photos that will hopefully make you hungry and want some good Yucatecan food soon!
It came as news to the Critic that Piola was a chain or franchise restaurant. Having tried the food at their Cancun location below the Ibis hotel and absolutely loving it, the Critic was happy to learn they were opening a new restaurant in Merida and although it has taken a while, he finally got around to trying the place here.
Located in one of the 21 or so plazas that stretch along the street from the “pozito” glorieta to the City Center exit at the Periférico, Piola sits next to an outdoor furniture place and a new Starbucks. Also in that plaza is the newly re-opened (this week) Nectar which has been the subject of many a review in the past, mostly favorable. The Critic popped in to check out the menu and it looks promising and not overly expensive. The waiter informed the Critic that it wouldn’t be possible to eat there that night, however, as the entire place was reserved. Probably for chef Roberto Solis’ family and friends; after all it was his father who built the new plaza that his restaurant is now located in. But the Critic digresses.
Piola has a great outdoor seating area right up front where you can smoke and drink and feel like you are anywhere in the world, what with the trees overhead poking between the exposed metal beams of the little plaza. It’s also a great place to watch people parking, always a fun activity here in the formerly white city. The Critic ordered a glass of (over-chilled as is the norm here) Merlot which tasted fine, probably because it was so cold. The house will set out a bruschetta for you to keep you from gnawing the furniture while you get your order to the kitchen via some friendly and attentive wait staff, mostly male.
The Critic ordered the Santa Fe pizza with an order of prosciutto thrown in for some extra sodium and the verdict is: a perfect pizza. Thin, wood fired oven crust, with a few fire-charred bits here and there, scrumptious multi-cheese, tomato and olive toppings and some quality ham on top. Absolutely heavenly and now, there is no more reason to make the trek to Rafaello’s downtown on 60 at 49 with it’s indifferent service. Their pizza comes in two sizes: a small version for yourself and perhaps a weight-conscious date, or a larger table top version that could comfortably satisfy 3-4 people, as long as they are not voracious teens.
Good service, fantastic pizza and a lovely little location. Don’t miss it.
Their website is: http://www.piola.it/index.php?page=show-local&menu_number=3&lang=es&id=67