Cozy, quaint, and charming. The first thoughts that passed through my head as I walked into Il Cuoco, located at 270 Avenida Piñero in San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico. The place had been recommended and I’ve passed right beside it many times for as long as I can remember. It’s been around for (I think) almost 20 years. Any restaurant that lasts longer than 3 years in Puerto Rico must be good, otherwise the most recent “follón” (that means fad, craze, trend, etc.) will certainly drown it out. So it was with a certain excitement that I walked in, finally about to taste the fresh pastas everyone kept talking about.
Let me just say it was absolutely worth it! We sat in a little corner near the window looking out onto the street. It was like a hidden corner, making it quite private. We were greeted by the owner. His strong Argentinian accent instantly made me want to dance some Tango, but alas we were there to eat, not dance (I wish. Why don’t they make restaurants with a dance floor?).
As soon as we sat down we received bread and garlic butter; the kind that you can tell is made from fresh-cut garlic and real butter, not crappy margarine and bottled diced garlic. Kudos to the fresh ingredients! Everything on the menu seemed delicious, but as soon as I wondered over to the meats and noticed my all time favorite Veal Marsala, I knew I was in the right part of the menu. For the sake of variety and trying new things (I always try to vary my choices) I opted for the Vitello Cuoco, a delicious veal steak with sweet Marsala sauce and cream served with Spaghetti and Alfredo Sauce. The veal simply melted in my mouth, as it should. The sauce was divine, creamy, and just the way I imagined it. The fresh pasta and Alfredo was homemade and delicious; a real treat.
My boyfriend had some pasta with chicken, broccoli and pink sauce, but he does not remember the name. It was equally delicious. To end the night we had Milk Caramel Crepes (Crepas de Dulce de Leche) served with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup. Oh Lord! Please forgive us! We promise to work out tomorrow!
The only thing that needed improvement was the service, as it was a bit slow considering the restaurant wasn’t that full. However, I think being in the little cozy corner might have affected that. Regardless, although slow, the service was friendly and respectful.
I give Il Cuoco 4.5 stars (of 5) and will definitely be going back. Check out their menu here: http://www.ilcuocopr.net