From the print edition
Beneath a blue glass ceiling depicting the signs of the Zodiac, an espresso machine whirrs and fresh baguettes are drizzled with olive oil. On the patio of La Gioconda House, a B&B and spa, a new Italian eatery has entered the scene in San José. Welcome Il Caffe DaVinci.
Though the café has been open but a few months, the menu is a well-practiced selection from the Italian owners. The pesto, pasta and breads are made in house.
The wine, olive oil and other select ingredients are imported from favorite Italian vendors. And nearly all the produce is purchased from local farmers markets.
Earlier this week, I supped on handmade tonnarelli pasta with porcini mushrooms and a wine-simmered pork chop with capers and olives: the two chef specials of the day at the Barrio California restaurant.
The pasta was delightfully chewy and heaped with lightly sautéed fungi. The pork was expertly cooked, very moist and flavorful, and simply paired with steamed broccoli.
Accompanying the main dishes was crusty bread, built for the dipping in balsamic vinegar, along with creamy, soft mozzarella from a caprese salada and a glass of the house ice tea or wine.
For a lighter lunch, there are hot sandwiches filled with cheese, tomato, vegetables or ham and served on Mediterranean flatbread. Most days, a lasagna is available.
The breakfast menu includes juices, pastries, sweet and savory croissants, omelets and pancakes. Owner and baker Antonella Davoli specializes daily in a unique crostate, or a crunchy fruit tart.
Remember to complete your meal with a shot of espresso, as any true Italian café there is a full espresso menu. Caffe DaVinci makes all its coffee from the espresso beans selected and roasted by Costa Rica’s Café Sanchez.
A dessert list of cakes, gelato and numerous decadent chocolate and berry sweets begs to be sampled. The tiramisu is heavy on the ice cream and chocolate drippings, light on the ladyfingers and mascarpone.
Entrees cost around ₡4,500 ($9), hot sandwiches ₡2,900 ($5.80) and croissants are ₡1,800 ($3.60). To check daily specials, visit the café on Facebook or call 2248-9422.
Il Caffe DaVinci
Location: In front of the Clinica La California, next to Pizza Hut in Barrio California.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday.