Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mexican Italian in Cancun

Sunscreen, Maine style
This is going to seem like the most bizarre post ever, one of my favorite Italian restaurants is located in a shopping mall in downtown Cancun. No my brain hasn't frozen over from the lack of heat in our house (finally fixed), I honestly can't wait to go back to Cancun for sun, sand, and pasta.

As much as I love our lazy days around the pool ordering tacos and pina coladas, we're pale skinned Northerners and there's only so much SPF 70 I can slather on the wiggly little C&Gs. Kukulcan Plaza and Luxury Avenue is our escape when we need a break from the sun or if rain is in the forecast.

The two malls are connected, Luxury Avenue offers high end duty free shops (Ferragamo, Vuitton, Vilebrequin) with a swanky (and kid friendly) cocktail bar and Kukulcan Plaza is the place to pick up flip flops, bathing suits, and Senior Frog souvenirs to bring home. They're indoors, air conditioned, and located right in the hotel zone at kilometer 13 on the road into downtown Cancun. The local bus stops in front as do many hotel shuttles, or if you need some exercise it's an easy walk along a wide and well maintained sidewalk.

Cenacola is an elegant and very upscale Italian restaurant in the center of the mall. But at 2:00 (when it opens) it's mostly empty and ready to welcome you in for some delicious handmade pasta, brick oven pizza and a few glasses of wine. A good wine list is a rare find in the cheap liquor frozen drink spring break capital of the world and the Italian owners have put together an impressive list of reds, whites, and bubbly.

2:00 might seem a bit late for lunch (especially for the kiddos) but keep in mind Cancun is one hour behind the East Coast and they don't switch to Daylight Savings Time until April. Floor to ceiling glass windows let you look in on the chefs as they prepare all the pasta by hand and if we're too early it always provides plenty of entertainment. One of these years I'm hoping they recognize me and come out with a glass of prosecco while I'm waiting.

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