In October I spent three commodious nights at the Hotel Paloma del Mar while apartment hunting. I had my suppers staring at violet-orange sunsets in La Traviata, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant. I became an instant fan.
This hidden gem of a gourmet, Italian-cuisine eatery has much to recommend it. Excellent service, headed by Edmundo Ramos, the classy maitre d’; an airy dining room with breathing space between tables; pizzas from a wood-burning oven; home-baked bread; a wizard at the bar (try the mescal-jamaica margarita: you’ll swoon); but its two irresistible attractions are the view and the ravioli, not necessarily in that order.
Perched on the lip of a hill, and open to the elements panoramically, Traviata rules over a majestic sweep of the entire Banderas Bay, with the twinkling lights of the city front and center. It is the stuff that dreams are made of, it is where one falls in love.
But even better than that are youthful and dedicated Chef Ezequiel Gonzalez’s astonishing ravioli. This is a version of home-rolled, stuffed pasta pillows that are a million light-years from our collective childhood nightmare of Chef Boyardee from the can, when mom and dad were too busy to cook.
These here are delicate, freshly-pressed pasta squares, lightly stuffed with minced seafood, spinach and a kiss of garlic and shaped large like agnolotti. They are briefly poached, until just-soft and toothsome, and sauced arrabbiata-style with ripe tomato and chiles. They are topped with prawn-size shrimps, juicy and springy and a straight-from-the-sea-to-the pan freshness that crackles as they melt in the mouth.
Look, things don’t get much better than this in the land of the ravioli.
(on the roof-terrace of Hotel Paloma del Mar)
5 de Deciembre, Puerto Vallarta
Res.: 322-174-0885 / 222-4412
photo by Algis Kemezys