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shrimp ravioli
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Al Chile Viola

Al Chile Viola

Destination: Santa Teresa, Mal Pais

To call Al Chile Viola just a Mediterranean restaurant doesn't do justice for the eccentric dishes Italian Chef Emiliano Franceschini concocts, including bull balls ravioli with creamy prosciutto sauce, yellow fin tuna crusted with sage, beef tenderloin with mushroom-tapenade sauce drizzled with truffle oil, and grilled octopus with Italian green sauce – that's just one night's menu.

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Back in Florence, Chef Emiliano studied agriculture, you can tell he knows the flavors of the land when you drink his garden-fresh mint and ginger powered mojitos, $7, which will pretty much blow your britches with their intense natural zing, and bite into his herb-bursting tuna tartare, $11, with avocado, cherry tomatoes, black olives, slivered almonds, toasted sesame seeds, sprinkled with a cryptic mix of rosemary, sage, thyme and basil.

To create his exuberant daily specials, Emiliano excellently incorporates creatures of the land and sea with his homemade pasta: bull balls ravioli, $12, topped with creamy prosciutto sauce, garnished with a chunk of prosciutto, served on a melted wine bottle; and shrimp ravioli, $13, stuffed with eggplant and raw chili peppers, topped with almond-basil infused olive oil.

The fruits of the banana plant lend their sweetness to Emiliano's signature dessert, chocolate banana brownie, $7, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream garnished with mint.

Ambiance

The authentic energy of the restaurant stems from a Florence flag above the kitchen, local beach-item artwork and glittery butterfly crafts made by Emiliano's Costa Rican wife, Luz. It's the perfect place for a romantic dinner date, family love fest, friend fun time, or even a solo slip away.

Service

Luz ,the main waitress, welcomes you with open arms and her cute Costa Rican peppiness. The staff giggles with one another behind the counter, mostly at Emiliano's jokes, and their excitement radiates through the dimly lit dining room.

Price

Appetizers $9-$11; Entrees $9-$20; Desserts $7; Drinks $3-$7

Hours

6 p.m. -9:30 p.m., closed Sunday

Open for lunch: noon- 3 p.m. (Dec.-Feb.)

Al Chile Viola in Pictures

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