Friday, December 18, 2015

My favorite restaurant: Il Cuoco Restaurant

How can I recommend my favorite restaurant in a way to show just how much I love it. I could talk about the food, I could talk about the people, but instead, let me talk about history.

Il Cuoco restaurant and I go back a long way. Talking with the owner, I was able to conclude that I've been going to Il Cuoco for at least 15 years. When you take into consideration that I regularly eat there every two weeks at least, that's at the very least 26 x 15. So it's quite possible I've had close to 400 meals in the restaurant (390 if you used a calculator). During those close to 400 meals, I've been able to explore pretty much the entire menu and several sauces and dishes more than once and they ALWAYS deliver.

At 15 years, it's one of the longest relationships in my life and one that has always rewarded me. I say hello to everyone in the restaurant, they know what me and my wife order although they always make sure to check in case we're feeling
adventurous. But it's not just food, I have also celebrated in the restaurant several life milestones. I've had birthdays here, I've capped off a Comic Con weekend with comfort food and a glass of red at our favorite table. I also had my wedding rehearsal dinner here on the second floor which they use for activities (pictured). The reason for this is because this feels like my home and the people who work here and have worked here are family to me.

That's the thing, a great restaurant to me is more than great food. It's food and service. And Il Cuoco has wonderful service and friendly attention which is why I'm looking fwd to my next meal there.

In regards to dishes, pastas are made fresh and I do recommend the chicken stuffed sorrentinos or the
beef and mushroom agnolottis because they're deliciously different and both variations of stuffed pasta. For sauces, there are plenty of options as well. My favorite white sauces are the White Clam or Damian (a rich cheese sauce with pesto that goes fantastic with the agnolottis). For red sauces, the Puttanesca is gorgeous, the Frutti di Mare is wonderful (pictured) and the Al Amatriciana (tomato, garlic, and bacon) is fantastic with angel hair pasta. If you like Lasagna, theirs is spectacular and their Cuoco Lasagna surprised me with so much flavor, mushrooms, chicken and white sauce instead of your standard meat sauce. If you like eggplant parmesan, theirs is the best I've had to date. Another interesting dish I strongly recommend is the linguini Al Cartocho. Basically you take a savory red sauce and seafood, pair it with linguini, place it all into a foil cocoon and slowly cook to allow magic to happen. If you have a hearty appetite or want to split a plate, their Penne a la Plancha is magnificent: pasta on the skillet, rich creamy white sauce and churrasco (Argentinian steak); definitely a winner.

Which brings up the meat. Being Argentinian, one of the best options for churrasco in the San Juan Metro area is actually Il Cuoco. Sure, they love their pastas, but if you're from Argentina, meat comes with the territory.

For dessert, the crepes with cajeta are nice but I shall always be partisan to the Tiramisu, also one of the best I've ever had anywhere. There are other very worthy options, but I just can't seem to not order that dessert when I go.

When I asked myself how I could show my love for this restaurant, I did the only thing a writer can do. I turned to my words and who knows? There might be an appearance in one of my stories or novels.

So if you're in Puerto Rico and want to go to a place that cooks gloriously and feels like home, check Il Cuoco out and by all means, tell Jorge I sent you.

Peace, love, and sorrentinos

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