Tag Archives: italiano

The Casual Restaurant Critic – Quick Picks and Pans

It has been some time since the last entry in the Casual Restaurant Critic’s online ranting journal and so, post-pandemic and with renewed interest, the Critic puts forth a number of short and sweet reviews. Please note that you can also see these on Instagram now, consisting of a short blurb with some photos to get the latest takes on some Merida favorites and then some.


Located in the Itzimná area, next to the Mexpost post office (does anyone even use the horrendous postal service anymore?) Eureka has been the Critic’s favorite go-to for the longest time and several recent visits confirm that this place is still in the number one spot on the Critic’s list. Fine home-crafted dishes along with impeccable, personalized service in a tiny restaurant that always feels like home, make for a perfect outing whether it’s lunch with clients or significant other, evening dinners with friends and loved ones, or a scrumptious solo meal before heading home to an empty fridge. Highly recommended, always.

Carbonara, done right – Eureka

Due Torri

Another entry in the Italian cuisine category, this place is STILL around after decades of delighting people with great, authentic food. Service is as professional as it i going to get in Merida and the pastas taste authentic. Located across from the Cri Cri pre-school and near Plaza Fiesta, this restaurant is worth visiting if Eureka is full up.

Wine and dressings
Puttanesca – Due Torri

Pizza Neo

Located just off 47 on or in the so-called Remate del Paseo de Montejo, this place had some great reviews so the Critic had to try it out. Ordering a Margherita pizza (just the basics) was a good choice. The crust was perfect, the cheese was fine and the basil was, well basil. Where it didn’t quite come together was in the sauce. On such a simple pizza the sauce has to shine and this one did not provide the oomph that would change this pizza from a casual good to lip-smacking outstanding. Looks amazing though.

Margherita Pizza – Neo

La Quinta de Elena Roldan

This place is on the highway to Progreso, right across from the Coliseo, that concert venue with the stadium feel and hard plastic on concrete seating where you can see once-famous Mexican pop stars on their giras de despedida (goodbye tours) and the Critic has been there on a few occasions but it never seems to gel and there is something about the place that is a little shall we say different. Anyway, on this occasion, the Critic ordered a beer and a pizza and while it was fine, it wasn’t going to win any pizza awards any time soon. They do have a great ceviche and the beers are cold, so stick with that and forgo the pizza.

Pizza w Bacon and a few other items -Quinta de Elena Roldan

Refettorio Merida

The Refettorio is tucked in here because it is a place where one can certainly eat, but likely readers might (or not) know it because it is a social kitchen designed to feed those who are in a vulnerable state; which could mean homeless, jobless, or just having a bad month.

Run by a core staff and many volunteers (you can be one) the Refettorio, an idea from the mind of Italian chef Massimo Bottura and brought to life in a beautiful restored mansion in Merida by Grupo Palace, headed by hotelier and philanthropist José Chapur, the kitchen churns out 200-300 meals per day to provide people a respite from their problems and enjoy a chef-prepared meal in a dignified, serene environment.

The food is nutritious, colorful, delicious and beautifully presented by guest chefs and kitchen staff/volunteers. If you can, take a day and spend a few hours volunteering here and you will be a better person for it.

Pasta in a Cream Sauce with Grilled Vegetables – Refettorio Merida
Fruit Salad “Xec” First Course – Refettorio Merida

Casual Restaurant Critic at La Piola

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.

Yummy pizza!

Yummy pizza!

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