Those with an appetite for authentic Italian cuisine should pay a visit to Lo Spago Ristorante Pizzeria in Santa Ana, southwest of San José. The casual eatery serves carefully prepared homemade food that would make any Italian mamma proud.
All the pasta and sauces at Lo Spago are made from scratch. Lo Spago owner Riccardo Ferrini says good Italian cooking begins with virgin olive oil, and he personally travels to local farmers markets to select the fresh vegetables used in every dish.
The gregarious Ferrini – who opened Lo Spago in 2006 with a partner but has since become the sole proprietor – hails from the Tuscany region of Italy, renowned for its basic yet flavorful fare. Lo Spago does not limit itself to serving dishes solely from Tuscany, however, but offers cuisine from all over Italy: slow-smoked speck, a type of prosciutto, and bruschetta from the northern part of the country, and spicy pasta sauces popular in southern regions such as Sicily and Calabria.
The restaurant’s bright, airy space is appealing, with an array of paintings and photos decorating the walls. Comfortable cushioned wicker chairs surround wooden tables. An open window allows customers to watch pizzas being prepared in the kitchen. There is also an outdoor sidewalk seating area with several tables.
Every couple of days Lo Spago introduces a new special of the day. The day of my visit, it was pasta with lobster, served with a choice of three sauces (₡9,500/$19). I opted for the fresh tomato sauce. Huge chunks of fresh, succulent lobster from the Pacific coast, tossed with linguine, filled the plate. The simplicity of the sauce brought out the quality and freshness of the ingredients. My dining partner ordered the same dish but chose the spicy sauce, which was delightfully piquant yet not overpowering.
The regular menu consists of a wide variety of pastas and other dishes, such as Milanese risotto with porcini mushrooms and tagliatelle with shrimp and sage. The restaurant also offers 27 different kinds of pizza in three sizes. The beef carpaccio, speck prosciutto rolled with avocado and onion, and the minestrone make excellent starters. Entrée prices range ₡3,400-₡11,000 ($6.80-$22). A full bar and an extensive wine list are available.
Save room for dessert! Although Lo Spago serves traditional Italian favorites such as tiramisu, as a coconut lover, I selected the coconut flan. Garnished with flakes of coconut and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was delicious. My companions ordered the pecan pie and chocolate mousse, both equally delectable.
For a delightful taste of Italian home cooking in Santa Ana, head to Lo Spago. And buon appetito!
Lo Spago Ristorante Pizzeria
Location: Terraflas commercial center in Santa Ana, 100 m north of Red Cross
Hours: Monday-Saturday, noon-3 p.m. and 6-10 p.m.; Sundays, noon-9:30 p.m.; closed Tuesdays
Contact: 2582-2121, www.restaurantelospago.com