Oliva Kitchen & Bar is a new arrival to Mérida’s ever-growing culinary options. This small restaurant is receiving enthusiastic comments from customers and has risen to one of the top positions among Mérida restaurants on TripAdvisor in just a few short months. The small, inviting space has 5 tables and some seats at the bar, so there is often a line-up to get in. The reason people are willing to wait, and keep coming back, is the delicious Italian food prepared right before your eyes in the open kitchen.
Owner-chef Stefano is a chef at heart. With no formal training, he learned from his Italian grandmother and aunts in his home city of Rome. Stefano’s father is Italian, his mother Mexican, and he has lived in the US as well as Mexico and Italy. “Traveling and living in different places has influenced my cooking,” he explains. Before opening Oliva, he renovated a colonial gem in Mérida’s Centro which is now the award-winning luxury boutique Hotel Lecanda. “I always need to be cooking,” admits Stefano. “Before opening Oliva, I was cooking for my family and the hotel staff.”
The Oliva concept of Italian urban cuisine started as a place for salads, paninis, and pastas to go; with just a few tables it could be described as a gourmet “cocina económica,” where people would want to eat more than once a week. It has evolved into a cozy restaurant where people come for a meal and a glass of wine. “I love to cook for others. This is a place where you can have good food and eat in comfortable surroundings. I am happiest when I am cooking,” he says. He feels happy and humbled whenever he hears someone say how much they like the restaurant and when he sees people waiting outside.
Everything is homemade including three of the pastas: fettucini, tagliolini, and ravioli; the dry pastas are of the highest quality imported from Italy. A few items from the menu include :
ANTIPASTI: Italian Meatballs: Beef + Pork + Tomato + Mozzarella + Parmesan
CRUDI: Bresaola: Cured Beef + Arugula + Roasted Beet + Parmesan
INSALATE (small or large): Toscana: Lettuce + Tomato + Salami + Olives + Pepper + Garbanzo + Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
PANINIS ON HOUSE CIABATTA: Dal Giardino: Portobello + Brie + Broccoli Pesto + Sundried Tomatoes + Roasted Red Pepper + Goat Cheese
PASTA: Ravioli Il Romano: Meat Ravioli + Tomato + Rosemary + Bacon + Arugula + Pecorino. La Carbonara: Linguini + Bacon + Egg + Parmesan + Pepper + Pecorino Romano
RISOTTO: Milanese: Saffron + Butter + Parmesan + Beef Rib
DOLCI: Tiramisù, Tortino al Cioccolato, Creme Brûlé, Panna Cotta, Affogato al Caffè
“I cook because I love it,” says Stefano. “My two passions were to be a chef or an architect. I didn’t study either one, but am fortunate to have Oliva to satisfy one passion and the restoration of Casa Lecanda which has satisfied the other. I never expected to be doing all of the things that I love to do with such an enthusiastic response from my guests.”
Oliva Kitchen & Bar – Merida
Calle 56 x 49, Centro
Tel. 923 2248
Mon.-Sat. 12-4 pm & 7-11 pm