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Monday, December 5, 2022

A taste of Italy, and of romance, in García Ginerés

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Claire Tyrpak
Claire Tyrpak
Claire Tyrpak retired to Mérida in 2021 after a career managing programs for nonprofits, government and a university in the United States. She has been a world traveler since the 1980s and Mexico is the fifth country in which she has lived.
Casa de Piedra has been providing delicious meals in a warm atmosphere for six years in García Ginerés. Photo: Courtesy

Tucked away on a quiet side street in Garcia Ginerés is a charming restaurant with an authentic taste and atmosphere of Italy. Casa de Piedra has been providing delicious meals in a warm atmosphere for six years in Mérida’s distinctive colonia. Described by travel blogger Pies Viajeros as one of the most romantic restaurants in the city, Casa de Piedra — named for its stone facade — is not to be missed.

Owner Vittorio Castellanos decided to open his own restaurant after almost 15 years of working in administration for an Italian restaurant business in Merida and Chiapas called Due Torri. He met the restaurant owner while working at a bank. The restaurateur thought being named after Italian movie star Vittorio Gassman, Vittorio was perfect for working for an Italian restaurant. Vittorio learned the business quickly and has brought his extensive knowledge to Casa De Piedra.

Keeping it all in the family, Vittorio is the cousin of Michelle Moreno who helped start Flores Café also in García Ginerés and calls it “Flores de Noche” (Flores of the Night) since they are open only in the evening and Flores Café is open during the day. When he decided to open his restaurant, Vittorio looked in García Ginerés for the right spot and finally found a deteriorated house that would work.

Casa de Piedra has been providing delicious meals in a warm atmosphere for six years in García Ginerés. Photo: Courtesy

After eight months, the space was transformed into a warm and wonderful place to enjoy a hearty Italian meal with attentive service. Vittorio’s American wife Lisa lent her touch to create a lovely atmosphere. Lisa is a chef in the kitchen along with another woman Erica and a dining room staff of four. The success of Casa de Piedra has all been achieved by word of mouth or social media.

The restaurant has several indoor rooms filled with décor including the classic red-and-white checkered table cloths, giving it the feel of Italy, along with a lovely semi-covered patio. The menu includes starters such as bruschetta. They also have salads, garlic bread, and dinners that include different types of pasta and pizzas. Beverages include wine, sangria, and beer along with soft drinks. They serve a dessert of the day.

Pizza is the most popular item at Casa de Piedra. Another popular item is Pasta Aurora made with bacon and mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese in a Chipotle sauce. Ensalada Caprese is another favorite. Prices are reasonable with small pizzas ranging from 70 to 115 pesos and large from 100 to 240. Pastas range from 100 to 140 pesos.

Their clientele comes from all over Mérida and foreigners also enjoy the restaurant, with many regulars. Reservations are recommended, especially on the weekend and during the winter season. Live jazz by guitarist Tom Kubin is presented Fridays and Saturdays from 9 until 11 p.m.

On a recent evening, my companion and I enjoyed dinner on the back terrace, with a refreshing glass of sangria, under a colorful evening sky. I ordered my usual Pizza Mediterránea. A good vegetarian choice, it features fresh mushrooms, black olives, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and peppers. I tried a delicious piece of my dinner companion’s crisp bruschetta, topped with fresh tomatoes, and black olives. Meals are served with a small carafe of zesty olive oil and chilis.

Located at Calle 22 #203D, Casa de Piedra is open Wednesday through Sunday from 6 until 11 p.m. Follow them on Facebook and contact them via WhatsApp at 999-905-5878 or call 999-921-4547.

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