La Divina Comida Offers Peruvian-Italian Fusion

May 26, 2006

Name a restaurant La Divina Comida – “Divine Food” – and you certainly have a reputation to live up to. A recent visit for dinner proved this celestial appellation was in some instances accurate and in others a misnomer.

However, had the charming, enthusiastic owner and chef, Marco Antonio, been there the night of our visit, I’m sure our problems would have been rectified.

Located in a small shopping mall 300 meters south of Multiplaza, in the western San José suburb of Escazú, the restaurant has a warm atmosphere enhanced by the terracotta- colored decor, pleasant lighting and elegantly set, marble-topped tables. The outside option, small tables with high stools, is preferable for drinks and appetizers.

After a quick glance at the menu, my two dining companions decided we needed a glass of wine to help us decipher the elaborate layout. We got off to a bad start. The house wine by the glass was unavailable, and we were given a small sample of a semisweet sparkling one, which, after a sip, we declined. Also not available, despite the extensive wine list, were the cheaper Chilean varieties ($22 a bottle). We were then offered a glass of Italian pinot grigio ($5.95) and accepted.

Fusion cuisine appears to be all the rage these days, and La Divina Comida has blended the distinctive characteristics of Peru and Italy for an interesting combination of flavors. Our helpful waiter made a valiant effort to interpret the complicated menu in whispered tones. I was sitting opposite my companions and couldn’t hear a word he said. Maybe he felt insecure about his English, but nevertheless he pressed on.

“Confusion with fusion, we should have brought a dictionary,” commented my friend.

Though well versed in reading Spanish menus, we still had minor difficulties. We found the menu somewhat baffling, as some items were repeated on separate pages under different headings: “Divine Specials,” “Delirium,” “Departure from Purgatory,” “Stolen from Heaven” and finally, for the desserts, “Escape from Hell.”

From the “Divine Specials,” we chose the marinated mushrooms ($7), recommended by a previous diner. Served on a platter consisting of seven scallop shells piled high with a generous portion of mushrooms, they were excellent and proved an ample appetizer for three of us. We requested some bread, but the rolls accompanied by minuscule pats of butter were a chewy disaster.

We ordered two main courses to share, Timbalo de Marco ($10.25) named after the owner, who apparently robbed this recipe from Heaven. It was an interesting mixture of fried agnolotti (a type of ravioli) and vermicelli pie with a pear and Gorgonzola sauce. Attractively presented, it was tasty and received no complaints.

Listed under both “Divine Specials” and “Stolen from Heaven” – where it should have stayed – the beef medallion ($10.25) was served with blueberry sauce and pureed squash. Enormous, killer-looking knives appeared, predicting what was to come. The steak arrived well done, not medium rare as ordered, and uninhibited mastication ensued until we gave up.

“Escape from Hell” offered an array of desserts, from which we sampled a nice, moist tiramisu ($5) and a portion of what we thought was cheesecake, but turned out to be chocolate mint ice cream cheesecake ($5). It was a pity the portion was so small, as it was melt-in-your mouth yummy. The coffee was excellent, as were the presentations, but the prices turned out to be on the expensive side (those quoted don’t include tax and service; however, this was stated at the bottom of every page on the menu).

Appetizers, soups, salads and a variety of carpaccios range $5-9; main courses $9-13; and desserts $5-7. Our bill for three people came to $70, including tax and service.

La Divina Comida is below World Gym in Centro Comercial Boulevard, 300 meters south of Multiplaza in Escazú. The restaurant is open noon to 11 p.m., closed Sundays. For information, call 201-9353.

 

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