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Monday, November 26, 2012

Toscanini - Italian Dining Experience in Jamaica

Toscanini Resturant at night
When you think of Jamaica you think of jerk chicken, jerk pork, oxtail, rice and peas and the many colourful and delicious Jamaican meals guaranteed to tantalize the palate. Fine dining to delicious Italian and Mediterranean meals prepared with fresh local produce would most likely not be the first thing to come to mind. But as the motto of the island of Jamaica states, "Out of Many One People", the same goes for the diverse mixture of cuisines that can be found here in Jamaica. Italian food is one that has found it's niche in the Jamaica culinary landscape. One of the leading pioneers charting their way in local Italian and Mediterranean dining is Toscanini.

Interior Dining Room

Veranda dining area
Toscanini is a quaint restaurant located at Harmony Hall, just a few miles outside of the resort town of Ocho Rios. The restaurant charms it's diners with it's rustic indoors and varanda dining area and provides a relaxing setting to enjoy the tastes of Italy and the Mediterranean. As we entered the restaurant we were warmly greeted by the owner Lella, who escorted us to our table and easily made us feel welcomed and set the tone for a wonderful dining experience. We also met the man behind the meals chef Pierluigi, called PG, who introduced himself to us as well as his Canon film SLR as he had noticed my Nikon D7000 resting on the table. He related his experiences as an avid sports photographer, his other passion.

Chalk board menu
The first thing that we notice that was different was that the traditional menu books that are handed to us by our servers. Once seated we were presented with two large chalk boards with the restaurants menu hand written with chalk, definitely not the type of menus I have seen. Lella then explained each item on the menu which consisted of appetisers, entreé and desserts. I greatly appreciated this as with most restaurants I have been to I have had to ask what is in the meals they are serving. So this was very helpful in deciding what I wanted to eat instead of the awkward fifteen minutes of trying to figure out what my meal should be.

Garlic Herb Butter

Focaccia

Olive Oil with Scotch Bonnet pepper
Cream of Pumpkin Soup

Zucchini Gratinate
To start off the dining experience we ordered the Cream of Pumpkin soup and the Zucchini Gratinate which went well with the warm Focaccia which came with Garlic Herb Butter and Olive Oil mixed with Scotch Bonnet pepper.

Fettuccine Florentina

Pappardelle Boscaiola
One of our servers, Julie adding freshly ground pepper
Up next was Entreé, so we decided to go all Italian and selected the Fettuccini Florentina made with  Breast of Chicken and Callaloo Alfredo Sauce and Papperdelle Boscaiola made with Prosciutto Ham and Portobello Mushrooms in a creamy Tomato Basil Sauce. This was finished with Parmesain cheese and a sprinkle of pepper done at our table by our servers. To make the food go down well a glass of fine Merlot and lime squash were great choices. The meals were delicious and combined with appetizers and continuous servings of warm homemade Focaccia quite filling as we barely had space for desserts!

Chocolate Profiteroles
However, dessert was a must for this rare dining occasion so we ordered up a serving of the delicious Chocolate Profiteroles, cream filled buns with a warm chocolate sauce. This was perfect way to end this dining experience as it was not too sweet but had that right amount of sweetness to satisfy the palate.

Chef Pierluigi PG

Lella Ricci

Our servers: L-R: Julie and Omar
We then had a wonderful conversation with Lella, who told us about the history of the restaurants and showed us here guestbook with kind words from her many international celebrity diners who have stopped by to sample her culinary dishes. This book of celebrity testimonials reaffirmed the many food awards plaques that decorated the interior dining area.

Lella's celebrity guestbook
One of the many testimonials in the Toscanini guestbook

Observer Food Awards
The three course meal for two came up to under $JM8000 which is about the average rate for such dining in Jamaica. Toscanini is definitely worth trying if you are in the mood for some italian or Mediterranean dishes with a relaxing, rustic ambiance.

3 commented:

Great review! PG is a fantastic chef and great guy. One of my favourite places in Ochi :)

very tempting pictures..great review..thanks for sharing it...

Italian dining restauran

Best review on Toscanni I'm looking forward to going in October.