La Focaccia di Martino

I must be jinxed. For the second time in under a week I headed out to check out a (new-to-me) restaurant only to find it shuttered. CoMi was a relatively new option advertising “California cuisine” and housed in the old Antonio’s between the Ramada and Doubletree Cariari hotels. Well, that didn’t last long…

La Focaccia Pizza OvenSince we were in the area, we headed to the nearby Plaza Cariari, which boasts a handful of restaurants, bars and other food outlets. Kid in tow, we decided on La Focaccia di Martino. A blazing wood-burning brick oven greets you at the entrance, but, by far, the best seats are spread out on a wrap-around terrace under a taut canvas awning, which unfortunately leaks a little during heavy rains.

PizzaThe meal started out with some fresh rosemary focaccia and packaged, imported Italian bread sticks. The thin-crust pizza comes properly cooked and appropriately charred. And the sauce, topping and cheeses are excellent. Unfortunately, the dough itself had a slightly dry, almost cardboard taste to it, far inferior to that served up at La Fabbrica, Tutti Li and even Pane e Vino.

Spaghetti CarbonaraOther dishes were also good, if not great. The spaghetti carbonara was well-done, well-sauced and tasty. Although Fabrizio wasn’t singing its praises, as he has grown up overly fond of gooey, too cheesy carbonaras he’s been fed around Costa Rica.
Maria’s corvina was a fresh, well-cooked piece of sea bass in a tangy, balanced tomato sauce, served with fresh steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes. Pet peeve: a small side of pasta would be much better and more authentic as a side.

CorvinaPerhaps the biggest winner of the night was the crocante dessert, a layered frozen ball of crème, chocolate ice cream, crushed almonds, and a hard chocolate coating.

The mini-mall has several other dining options attached, including La Focaccia’s sister restaurant Arsenio’s Sushi Bar, Tijuana Mexican Restaurant, Bufalos Mojados (a sport bar and wing joint), Fika (a pastry shop and gelateria), and La Tache (a contemporary, Fusion lounge, café and restaurant).

NahuaMy favorite foodie shop in the complex is Nahua, an elegant little boutique dedicated to fine chocolate and coffee. They offer up a range of individual chocolates crafted by Sibu, as well as bags of cacao nibs, cacao butter and their own brand and roast of coffee.

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4 thoughts on “La Focaccia di Martino

  1. We tried La Focaccia di Martino in March and came to similar conclusions. It was sturdy rather than subtle Italian cuisine (for example the pressed ham in Carbonara was plentiful but it was still processed lunch meat…) with large portions reasonably priced. More authentic than most in Costa Rica. The terrace is a great spot for a casual dinner and La Focaccia di Martino is easy to recommend.

    • Forgot to mention that although it wasn’t raining when we were there so we didn’t experience the leak it was a windy evening and the terrace is quite exposed. They might consider adding some wind screens while they’re repairing the roof.

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