Italian food, like Chinese, is everywhere. While you might struggle to find a Thai restaurant outside city capitals, you could be on the foothills of the North Pole and still stumble across a pizzeria at the very least.
Of course problems arise from this dynamic. Quality control across the board weakens and it becomes all too easy to shrug off Italian restaurants outside their maternal land as some non-authentic potential disappointment that's best to be avoided.
Do not make that judgment about La Girolata.
Firstly, because this place is a shrine to the wonders of Italian cuisine and secondly, because the head chef, Pietro, would probably throw a chunk of Pancetta at your head. He's very Italian like that.
The distinctly Italian blood runs through the restaurant's opulent décor and menu with the sturdy warmth and comfort of an Italian mother. Even the terrace – you can understand why it draws the wedding crowd - betrays its Caribbean setting, plunging you headfirst into a Hepburn in Roman Holiday scenario, especially with a bowl of one of their special ravioli dishes and a bottle of Pinot by your side. If it wasn't for their Colombian live music, there are concerts every Friday and Saturday; you could think you were in Tuscany.
Start with the Carpaccio di Manzo, a starter made of super fine cuts of premium beef swimming luxuriously in a creamy sauce – accompanied with a warm breadbasket and honey butter, so aromatic and fluffy you could bathe in it.
The mains are just as beautiful. Voluptuous as Sofia Loren and so tasty you'll be reduced to eating in rapturous silence. We had the tuna, which was served in two generous chunks, and collapsed, ever so elegantly, in lightly salty flakes on our forks.
If you can't work out what your gut wants, and the one hundred-and-something dishes push you to say 'just another minute' at least twice to the enthusiastically attentive waiters, let the kitchen decide what's good for you.
Choose a meat or fish and have off-the-menu invention whipped up for you by the head chef. Which, if his very own cheese stuffed, shrimp riddled ravioli is anything to go by, is going to hit a perfect 10 on your taste scales
The dessert menu, with a 'we're number 1 so why try harder' attitude seals the deal. The Tiramisu, and chocolate ice cream bonbons in particular, get our thumbs up.
After plowing through your meal with about as much subtlety as an Italian chat up line, the only question you'll be left with, after settling the (very reasonable) bill, will be when can we come back again?
THIS IS WHAT WE LOVE
- La Girolata’s colonial setting, size and event portfolio makes it the ideal spot for your next event. Ask the restaurant for more details on what they can offer you
- Price/quality ratio is very much on point. You can fill your boots here for around USD $20 a head without trying too hard
- Leaving the chef to make your meal selection for you, knowing you would never have made a better choice
- The Italian wine list! A warm welcome after overdosing on the Argentina/Chile heavy offering you'll find elsewhere
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- It's best to ask the waiters what desserts they have. The ones listed on the menu are not always available
- The air con is pretty strong towards the back of the restaurant, but if you ask nicely like we did, they will turn it down
- There is another La Girolata restaurant in Barranquilla – just in case you thought it looked familiar