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Posts Tagged ‘restaurant review’

Several months ago we tried a new place that had just opened up at the Ibis Hotel in downtown Cancun and after that 1st meal I was hooked! I enjoyed everything about our dining experience that in just a few short months we have been at least half a dozen times already. Piola, which means, “Meeting Place” in an ancient Italian dialect  was started over 20 years ago by two brothers from Treviso, Italy and can now be found in Italy, US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Turkey and Honduras.

Piola

Piola has a varied menu that features simple Italian food at great prices in a colourful setting, with great music and very friendly service. Hubby and I have been making our way through the menu and so far we haven’t been disappointed in any of the dishes. From the “vacio” that melts in your mouth (similar to rib-eye) served with salad and pasta, to the beef Carpaccio and various pasta dishes each and every meal has been satisfying, tasty and a reasonable price .

Picanha-Argentinian cut of beef

We have gotten to know the staff and we are always greeted warmly when we arrive for dinner or lunch and the place is always abuzz with people which is rare in Cancun.  They have inside and outside dining on a pleasant semi-enclosed patio and space for large groups. Be sure to order their house speciality-frozen basil martinis- a real refreshing treat! After, six visits we still have a long way to go before we have tried everything so if you see us there be sure to say hi and Buen Provecho!

Pasta!

What is your favourite neighborhood restaurant?

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A couple of weeks ago we finally got around to checking out Zenzi’s Sunday BBQ on the beach in Playa del Carmen. We had eaten there  several times before on one of our many Playa del Carmen excursions but we hadn’t made it down for the BBQ yet so I was eager to go. Who doesn’t love a beach BBQ? We gathered a group of friends together and set off for the day with just our towels and sunscreen since ZenZi has a funky beach lounge. It was a nice change from lugging our cooler, beach chairs, shovel and sun umbrella to the beach.

Every Sunday Zenzi has their all-you-can-eat beach BBQ for the very reasonable price of 120 pesos (less than $12) drinks not included of course. 🙂  We settled into huge bean bag-like seats under a large sombrilla and ordered our first drink of the day. It was a beautiful Sunday with barely any clouds in the sky and very little breeze so we made frequent trips to the ocean to cool off between playing rounds of dominos and catching up on everyone’s news…or should I say gossip? We even taught my girlfriend’s little girl how to play dominos and for a 4 year old she kicked butt!

Chillin' at Zenzi Playa

Finally just before 2pm the BBQ was ready and with grumbling stomachs we made our way to the line. You could separate the true meat lovers from the rest as the carnivores skipped the fresh green salad, pasta salad and potato salad and went directly to the grill. There they loaded up on burgers, plump sausages, pork chops and lightly charred chicken wings. Delish!!!! Armed with over-flowing plates we dug into our mouth-watering meals with gusto and some of us even went back for seconds…. and dare I say thirds? By now the live band had started up and the cool sound of reggae  filled our ears as we relaxed after our filling lunch.

More drinks were ordered and trips to the ocean became less frequent as we settled into our bean bags and passed the afternoon sharing stories and anecdotes about life. As the sun began to drop  we gathered our things, paid our bill and made our way back to Cancun. It had been a great Sunday shared with good friends and tasty food a winning combination by anyone’s standards. We all agreed that we would definitely go to ZenZi’s Beach Club for their BBQ on a Sunday again.

Just some of the food that can be found at the BBQ

Have you been to Zenzi’s before? Do you like BBQ’s?

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Thai Combo

I apologize in advance to all of my non-food obsessed readers. I had planned to write about our recent trip to the Yucatan and not food again but since hubby and I just came from dinner at Dragon Chi-Thai I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to promote this great little downtown restaurant while the dining experience was still fresh in my mind. This was our second visit to Chi-Thai and we were not disappointed. They have a varied menu that features Chinese food as well as some Thai dishes and their speciality is duck with 7 different styles to choose from like Cantonese, Mandarin and the ever popular Peking duck.

Cantonese Duck

The food is paired with classic Chinese restaurant decor of brightly painted walls, Chinese lanterns, umbrellas, fans and the odd Buddha and elephant. They have comfortable seating both inside and out and a friendly staff, as well as a Chinese chef ,which is always a good sign when you choose to eat Chinese food. On both occasions we started off with a cold beer while we discussed which dishes to order.

On our first visit we ordered the shrimp Vietnamese rolls to start, which though very tasty were rather bulky and not as nicely rolled as I am accustomed to in Vancouver, and  then we shared a steaming hot bowl of  Mandarin soup which was very similar to one of my favourites—Hot and Sour Soup. We then ordered the Cantonese duck which was tender and moist and served on a bed of sautéed vegetables. The sticky sweet sauce had us licking our lips long after we had finished. Our friend, who had joined us, opted for one of their very reasonably priced combos. She chose a Thai combo of chicken in a tangy garlic ginger sauce accompanied by jasmine rice and a roll.

Tonight hubby and I started off with fried wontons stuffed with minced  shrimp and then we ordered a mixed chow mein and Mongolian chicken. Both dishes arrived piping hot and with two bowls of fried rice. We quickly realized that our eyes had been bigger than our stomachs. After eating less than half we asked our waiter to wrap up the rest to go and while we waited the chef came to our table with a furrowed brow and asked us if we had enjoyed our food since we hadn’t finished it all. We quickly assured him that everything had been delicious and I pulled out the folded take-out/home delivery menu from inside my purse, that we had requested from our waiter, to further convince him that we had enjoyed his food and planned to come again.

Chi-Thai is a great choice if you are looking for reasonably priced food and craving something with an Asian influence. It isn’t the most authentic tasting Chinese and Thai food that I have eaten to but then again I hail from Vancouver ,where you can find some of the best ethnic restaurants around, so I am a little biased especially when it comes to reviewing Asian food;however, it will definitely satisfy your Chinese food cravings.

Mandarin Soup

*Dragon Chi-Thai is located on Bonampak Ave. across from SEAT Car Dealership tel: 252 2259

**** I wrote this review a few days ago. I would like to add that we ordered home delivery on Sunday from Chi-Thai and unfortunately we were very disappointed in the food. We ordered 2 combos that arrived cold and several of the dishes were absolutely devoid of any flavour whatsoever.My husband ordered a Thai dish that supposedly comes with jasmine rice but he received regular rice instead. We had to throw out half of the food because it was inedible. The only reason that we could think of for such a difference in food quality was that perhaps the chef was off that day and his helper was on his own.We were also very disappointed that when we called the restaurant to voice our concerns over the food the woman who answered had nothing to say to us. We will try them again one day but we definitely won’t be ordering home delivery next time.

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Calamari

Once again downtown Cancun has a new culinary attraction for the locals.The owners, Andrea Rino and the chef of Limoncello, in the Hotel Zone, have brought us a little  taste of Italy to the corner of Coba and Bonampak. Last week hubby, myself and a friend of ours decided to check it out. We arrived early by Cancun standards so the place was empty but that was okay since the three of us were in high spirits so we made our own buzz.We chose a table, with an old school Mom and Pop style Italian checkered tablecloth,  upstairs and on the terrace overlooking Bonampak Avenue. Erika and I ordered a jarra of wine (reasonably priced) and hubby a chelada and we settled in to explore their extensive menu.

Rino's Pizza Time Ristorante & Panninoteca

We chose the calamari to start with and an Italian sausage with mushrooms and mozzarella cheese pizza to share. The calamari arrived and we hungrily “dug” in to try it. Erika really liked it but I; however, had a few reservations. I found it somewhat soggy lacking more crunch but to be honest I have yet to find a really good calamari dish in Cancun. Next the pizza was up and I was pleasantly surprised to note that the mozzarella cheese wasn’t your typical shredded pseudo mozza that is quite common here but real buffalo mozzarella thickly sliced ,placed on top of the sauce and under the zesty Italian sausage. I eagerly served myself a slice and sank my teeth into it hoping for an explosion of flavour that would  rock my taste buds. I was not disappointed in the flavour department but (yes sadly there is a but) the really thin crust was undercooked and doughy in parts of the pizza. We polished it off anyway as the actual flavour of the pizza was great. We mentioned it to our waiter and he was happy to receive our feedback since the restaurant had only been open for about a week and understandably so they were still ironing out a few kinks.

Menu

We discussed the other dishes on the menu and picked out a few  that we would like to try on our next visit to Rino’s. We paid the bill and had a quick chat with Andrea, a very friendly gentleman, and headed home. Overall Rino’s Pizza Time Ristorante & Panninoteca has the potential to be a great new spot for locals and tourists alike. They have two spacious outdoor areas and plenty of room indoors all  pleasantly decorated with a friendly staff and an interesting menu. I am looking forward to going back soon!

Italian Sausage Pizza

**** Update–We have been back to Rino’s a couple of times since my first review and we have been very impressed with the food. We now ask that they make sure that the bottom of our pizza is crispy. Their house Mozzarella is divine!! I also recommend the hot appetizer dish of clams and mussels (I only order the clams as I am not a huge fan of mussels)…the clams were amazing and the broth was so tasty that we didn’t leave a drop.

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Last Thursday Cesar and I decided to check out Cafe Chianti, a restaurant/bar near our home. We have passed by it several times since it is very close to Marakame Cafe https://ashlied.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/marakame-cafe/, a favourite of ours. It has been around for about a year and since first opening they have added a very nice outdoor patio and since I love outdoor patios we thought that it was time to check it out-plus I was looking for something to blog about 🙂

Cafe Chianti

 Chianti wine which hails from the Chianti region in Tuscany  usually brings to mind a wine bottle in a basket sitting on a red checkered table-cloth with a candle in it in a small Mom and Pop neighbourhood  Italian restaurant. I remember eating in such a place when I was a teenager with my first real boyfriend when we went out for a romantic dinner.Now, Chianti wine is more often than not found in a standard glass bottle but I believe some brands still use the basket.

We were craving a cheese plate and me, a glass of red wine and Cesar a beer so before even parking the car I jumped out to see whether they had a cheese plate on their menu.They did! There was one other table taken but other than that both indoors and outdoors was empty–but it was fairly early in the evening still. We settled into our seats on the patio and a very friendly waiter gave us our menus. I ordered a glass of wine 65 pesos and Cesar a beer about 35 pesos.They had a cheese plate, a cold meat plate and a mixed plate. We chose the cheese plate as I really am a cheese hound at heart.My glass of wine arrived–strike one!–very chincy for the price. For the same price at Marakame you are served a better sized glass of wine. Then the cheese plate arrived–strike two! Again, for the price (214 pesos) we were expecting a lot more and from the beginning I wasn’t all that thrilled with their cheese selection-not very flavourful and quite bland. And once again Marakame reigns supreme for their cheese plate. In all fairness though Cafe Chianti had a wonderful parmesan cheese basket on the plate filled with grapes and they had four delicious salsas on the side–chipotle, roasted habanero, habanero purée and an avocado salsa.

Cafe Chianti Cheese plate

We looked over the rest of the menu and they had several items that I would like to go back and try at a later date. Let’s hope that their other dishes fare better on the Ashlie-scale!  A few more people arrived as we were leaving which was great to see and it also meant that the owner could hover over their table for a while instead of ours. 🙂 When all is said and done I had a pleasant time as the company was great ( my husband) and it is always nice to get out of the house and try new places. We will go back again but next time I will order a beer, no cheese plate and we will try some of  their other dishes.

Cafe Chianti outdoor patio

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As I mentioned in my previous blog after our day at Playa del Carmen we decided to go to El D’Pa Bistro in Parque de las Palapas.Here is their  link for more information www.eldpa.com/about   They have been around for several years and my husband and I have always enjoyed going there for a glass of wine (me) a beer (him) and escargots. There aren’t many places in Cancun  that you can find escargots so this makes D’Pa a great place to go if you enjoy the “mighty snail”. They are also quite well-known for their crepes and beef bourginon and other french dishes. We always like to sit outdoors on the patio but they also have a lovely large indoor seating area with an upstairs area as well.

El D'Pa Bistro

El D'Pa Bistro

They often have live music later at night but by that time we have usually moved on to another place. On Saturday we went with my Mom and we were expecting some more of our friends to show up but they didn’t-such is the way of Cancun! We ordered two dozen escargots with lots of bread to sop up the butter, parsley, garlic jus and wine and beer to wash it  all down-not a calorie-wise meal at all but as always it was DELICIOUS!! 🙂 Once we realized that no one else was coming we ordered another round of drinks-this time I had a lychee martini (they have a varied list of exotic martinis) and we simply enjoyed our own company as we watched all the cars frantically trying to find a place to park .

Parque de las palapas is always a zoo on Fridays, Saturdays and especially on Sundays as families flock to the “park” (which really isn’t a park per se but more a gathering place made of concrete and palapas).http://www.cancun.com/Editorial/Parque-de-las-Palapas/ to listen to music, eat hot corn on the cob slathered in mayonnaise, cream, chili powder, and cheese or eat quesadillas hot off the grill, or to buy arts and crafts or simply to hang out with your boyfriend (there are never any shortages of young couples making out on the benches 🙂 )

After a few  hours at D’Pa we decided to call it a night and head home. It had been a long but great day out to Playa del Carmen and Cancun. We finished our weekend off on Sunday watching part 2 and 3 of The Pirates of the Caribbean ( I just love Jack Sparrow!) and generally relaxed. Now, I must think of something fun to do this coming weekend! 🙂

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As I mentioned in my previous blog after our day at Playa del Carmen we decided to go to El D’Pa Bistro in Parque de las Palapas.Here is their  link for more information www.eldpa.com/about   They have been around for several years and my husband and I have always enjoyed going there for a glass of wine (me) a beer (him) and escargots. There aren’t many places in Cancun  that you can find escargots so this makes D’Pa a great place to go if you enjoy the “mighty snail”. They are also quite well-known for their crepes and beef bourginon and other french dishes. We always like to sit outdoors on the patio but they also have a lovely large indoor seating area with an upstairs area as well.

El D'Pa Bistro

El D'Pa Bistro

They often have live music later at night but by that time we have usually moved on to another place. On Saturday we went with my Mom and we were expecting some more of our friends to show up but they didn’t-such is the way of Cancun! We ordered two dozen escargots with lots of bread to sop up the butter, parsley, garlic jus and wine and beer to wash it  all down-not a calorie-wise meal at all but as always it was DELICIOUS!! 🙂 Once we realized that no one else was coming we ordered another round of drinks-this time I had a lychee martini (they have a varied list of exotic martinis) and we simply enjoyed our own company as we watched all the cars frantically trying to find a place to park .

Parque de las palapas is always a zoo on Fridays, Saturdays and especially on Sundays as families flock to the “park” (which really isn’t a park per se but more a gathering place made of concrete and palapas).http://www.cancun.com/Editorial/Parque-de-las-Palapas/ to listen to music, eat hot corn on the cob slathered in mayonnaise, cream, chili powder, and cheese or eat quesadillas hot off the grill, or to buy arts and crafts or simply to hang out with your boyfriend (there are never any shortages of young couples making out on the benches 🙂 )

After a few  hours at D’Pa we decided to call it a night and head home. It had been a long but great day out to Playa del Carmen and Cancun. We finished our weekend off on Sunday watching part 2 and 3 of The Pirates of the Caribbean ( I just love Jack Sparrow!) and generally relaxed. Now, I must think of something fun to do this coming weekend! 🙂

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