Posted by: Food Lover | February 2, 2013

Il Vizietto


restaurant

Il Vizieto is quite unlike any restaurant we’ve ever been to, and it’s good odds that one might find such a place only in Sayulita. The restaurant itself is little more than a small but purposeful kitchen with limited counter space and a small gas stove built under a hut, with an outdoor clay oven nestled beside it. Attached to the hut are single row seats, but instead of chairs you are on swings. The tables – about six tables of 4 – are scattered on the grass amongst trees.

bar

The bar is also built under a hut. The base of the bar takes old bottles and creates a wall with them using the clay from the ground. It has a very hand-made feel, and adds a raw charm to the place. The bartender is always very focused and precise, it can be quite a lot of fun watching him mix drinks. They always have an excellent wine selection, but do not expect a long list.

lamp To further compliment the “Junk Art” style decor and the bohemian simplicity of the place is the odd selection of music they play, including tunes by Richard Cheese (or Ricardo Queso, as he is called in Mexico) – “America’s Loudest Lounge Singer” – who belts out bizarre and out of context covers of songs that will give you a good laugh (he is actually a very talented singer). Over our table hung a lampshade made out of egg containers; it was actually quite clever and attractive. Sometimes you can catch the staff placing candles inside of wine bottles that had their bottoms removed and placing them here and there; a brilliant thought for outdoor dining since the flames do not get blown out. Since Sayulita is a place where people’s pet dogs are allowed to roam free, it isn’t entirely impossible that a dog might wander by. We’ve never had one beg for food, but they are happy to accept a quick pet. Once a furry friend napped at our feet and kept one of us nice and warm for a time.

IMG_0591
Another charming element to this groovy little spot is the refrigerator sitting outside. It’s used as a storage space for things like cutlery, empty bottles, candles, and other such miscellaneous supplies. We love places with oddities, and this spot sure has a good list of them. Keep in mind that sitting outside amongst the beautiful greenery does make important to remember throwing on some bug spray. Natural bug lotion (with a eucalyptus base) is a good option, especially since the scent is much nicer.

Don’t expect a set menu here, the chef prepares new dishes daily based on what’s available in the market and the latest catches from the ocean. One thing you can expect here is hand made pasta: spaghetti, fettuccine, gnocchi, tortellini and arancini. You can saunter up to the kitchen, stand over the counter, right across from the chef and ask what’s cooking. He loves it when you take a look at the pastas, smell the sauces that are slowly cooked and lovingly prepared, and let your eyes and nose help pick your feast for the night. If he has some of the sauces ready at the time he’s even happy to let you have a taste to help you decide what you might like to order.

raw pasta

And now, to the food itself.

We shared an Insalata Caprese, and enjoyed wonderfully fresh tomatoes and basil with a fine quality olive oil, delicious balsamic vinegar (we’re going to guess that it was an 8 year old vintage), and a unique avocado pesto that imparted a delicious counterpoint to the olive oil and vinegar. Our only quibble is the use of a hard mozzarella cheese instead of a buffalo mozzarella. We very much prefer the latter, and speculate that perhaps it was simply not available for the chef that evening. If it was a conscious choice, however, we have to say that it was a “miss” (a rare thing at this place).

caprese

All the pasta dishes sounded fabulous, so after scanning the varieties laid out on the counter and much debate (over a lovely Argentinian red – Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon) we followed our custom and each chose a different dish so that we could share the flavours and textures.

The most unique dish was a gnocchi with shrimps and carrot sauce. The gnocchi was very al dente, just on the verge of not being cooked well enough – just like a good al dente should be. The result was a delightful texture – chewy without being doughy. The shrimp was sauteéd perfectly, while the carrot sauce, which seemed almost too subtle at first bite, complemented the texture and flavour of the gnocchi very well.

gnocci-carrot sauce - shrimp

Our other choice was more traditional, but was clearly the flavour winner of the evening. A tortellini with five meats served with a delicious tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. This simple yet perfectly prepared dish literally made our mouths water from its aroma alone, and the texture and flavour confirmed what our nose already hinted – this was a very fine pasta dish indeed. As we have noted in our review of Trattoria Michel, tomato sauces in Mexico, when prepared by someone who has mastered the art, can be truly spectacular. While this sauce didn’t quite climb to the heights as Michel’s did, it was very, very good.

To sum up, if you’re in Sayulita take the time to wander across the river and find this place. Don’t let the eccentric setting deter you. It’s worth it.

LINKS

Find them on Trip Advisor:
Tripadvisor.ca/Il_Vizietto-Sayulita_Pacific_Coast

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