The simplicity of homemade pasta is a pleasure. One that only fades once you've had your fill of the simply crafted, yet finely honed recipe: flour, salt, pepper, water and fresh lemon zest hand-rolled into thick strands known as strozzapretti, a regional specialty of Romini, Italy, brought to Puerto Viejo by Italian Head Chef Marco Semprihi.read more close
It's not just the pasta that's homemade though, Café Viejo makes its own pizza dough, bread and lavash, incorporating them into dishes like the bruschetta, made with ingredients that compliment your entrée order (if you order seafood, then the bruschetta comes topped with seafood) and served as a free appetizer.
Among other appetizers, Café Viejo's most popular remains the beef Carpaccio, $16, rare finely shaved slices of U.S. beef tenderloin topped with fresh arugula from Cartago – an inland province of Costa Rica - , sliced Italian parmesan, mushrooms and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil imported from Italy.
Semprihi relies on products of origin for many of his recipes using Prosciutto de Parma, salami from Milan and pecorino from Tuscany. The restaurant even carries Italian craft beer Amacord for $5 in addition to local beers, Imperial and Pilsen, as well as a decent-sized wine list and an American-style bar serving everything from mojitos to cosmopolitans and Manhattans for $6.
The entrees at Café Viejo run the gamut of Italian cuisine from pastas and pizzas to seafood and beef. While you can find many similar recipes at the other Italian restaurants in Puerto Viejo, Café Viejo is the only place you'll find Romini specialties like the Strozzapreti Asparagi, $16, made with spec (Italian smoked ham), pine nuts and asparagus tossed in a creamy sauce served over homemade Strozzapreti pasta.
For dessert, Café Viejo sticks to the classics with tiramisu, $6, served in a martini glass topped with dark chocolate shavings.
Café Viejo's a lounge /café and bar in the center of town, Puerto Viejo along the main street with a street-side patio and a dining room illuminated by chandelier.
Head Chef Marco Semprihi makes the rounds around the restaurant to help guests and ensure everyone is satisfied, though the crew of waitresses seems slightly less interested in ensuring the quality of service.
Appetizers $8-$23; Entrees $8-$80; Pasta $9- $19, Pizza $5-$34; cocktails $5-$6
6 p.m. – 1 a.m.; closed on Tuesdays