Without exception, all of the Italian restaurants in the city — or at least the ones this writer was able to find — offer unexceptional pasta dishes and pizzas. So anyone hoping to find that special Italian place in this city of moles is probably going to be disappointed. Still, if a respite is needed from Oaxacan cooking, any of the Italian restaurants reviewed here will do in a pinch. In the end, though, what it really comes down to is putting aside expectations, not pining for that special pasta dish or pizza from back home, and just enjoying the meal at hand. As for the reviews of all the restaurants in the city listed in this guide, not just the ones specializing in Italian cuisine and pizza, read the article Restaurants — Oaxaca City, Oaxaca.
Mezzaluna • Italian Restaurant, Pizza, Wine • $$$-$$$$ • (T)
Slinging hearty plates of pasta and wood-fired horno pizzas, this reliable Centro Histórico Italian has rescued many a traveler whose taste buds have become saturated with Oaxacan cooking. Dining is available indoors beneath the high ceilings and viga beams or, weather permitting, upstairs on the roof, which the waiters charitably refer to as la terraza, with stunning views of the Iglesia de Santo Domingo to the east and the mountains on all sides. Rounding it all out, the small but respectable wine list features mostly Italian and South American vintages.
- Allende 113, just east of García Vigil; North of Independencia, Centro Histórico; Daily 1 p.m. - 11 p.m.; MX$100 - 250; phone 951-516-8195.
Pizza Nostrana Spaghettería • Italian Restaurant, Pizza, Wine • $$-$$$ • (S)
Decent Italian fare, attentive waiters, and old-world digs draw visitors and locals aplenty to this Centro Histórico trattoria across the street from the Iglesia de Santo Domingo. The small wine list features vintages from Italy, Spain, and South America, mostly.
- Alcalá 501, corner Allende; North of Independencia, Centro Histórico; Daily 1 p.m. - 11 p.m.; MX$100 - 200; Most major credit cards; phone 951-514-0778.
La Rústica • Italian Restaurant, Pizza • $$-$$$ • (R)
There are three Rústicas in town — one named La Rústica, and the other two Pizza Rústica. They all serve from the same menu and charge the same prices. Of the three, however, La Rústica has by far the best cooking and service, along with the more refined dining.
Conveniently located in the Centro Histórico, at the intersection of Murguía and Alcalá, La Rústica is housed in a beautiful old building, its front entrance opening to a spacious vestibule, two stories high, upstairs the dining room, its ceiling held high by arches, Italian opera softly playing in the background, evoking the Italy of old. The best seats in the house are the balcony-front tables with views of cobblestone Alcalá below, though they accommodate only two. As expected, the waiters are attentive, but not overly so. And yet, even though this place has all the makings of fine dining, the kitchen somehow manages to muck it up with uninspired, but still edible, pastas and pizzas — which, come to think of it, more or less describes the culinary accomplishments of all the Italian restaurants in the city. One last point: the wine list of mostly Italian and Spanish vintages is sparse, but at least there is one.
As for the two Pizza Rústicas, one is in the middle-class Reforma neighborhood, about a thirty minute walk north of the Zócalo, and the other one, just like La Rústica, is on Alcalá in the Centro Histórico, though a couple of blocks north of the Iglesia de Santo Domingo. The Reforma Rústica, with its hand-made wooden furniture and low-slung Spanish tile roof, has a downscale, rustic Mediterranean vibe to it. The cooking, however, falls short of even La Rústica, although anyone who happens to be in the neighborhood and is jonesing for a slice, or even a whole pie, should have no compunction about dropping in. The same cannot be said for the Rústica north of the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, because even though the cooking is more or less the same, the dining area is hot and stuffy and generally unpleasant. So, except for quick slice para llevar, it is best to steer clear of this one, especially with La Rústica a short five minute walk away.
- Murguía 101, just east of Alcalá; North of Independencia, Centro Histórico; Daily 1 p.m. - 2 a.m.; MX$90 - 200; Most major credit cards; phone 951-501-1318.
- Alcalá 803, half-block north of Humbolt; North of Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Centro Histórico; Mon - Sat 1 - 10:30 p.m., closed Sun; MX$90 - 200; Most major credit cards.
- Belisario Domínguez 405, corner Emilio Carranza; Colonia Reforma; Daily 1 p.m. - midnight; MX$90 - 200; Most major credit cards.
- 120 Valdivieso, one block north of the Zócalo; Around the Zócalo, Centro Histórico; Daily 8 a.m. - 2:30 am; MX$50 - 150; Most major credit cards; phone 951-514-0303; www.sagrario.com.mx; firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Díaz Quintas 117, corner Margarita Maza; North of Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Centro Histórico; Daily 1 - 11 p.m.; MX$100- 200; Most major credit cards; phone 951-512-9252; Reservations recommended.
- Cinco de Mayo 614, corner Alianza; Barrio de Jalatlaco, Centro Histórico; Daily 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.; MX$150 - 250; Most major credit cards; phone 951-513-8742; Reservations recommended.