If you were asked what the most popular food in the world is, what would you answer? For us, pizza won the prize. It doesn’t matter if it has mushrooms, bacon or just pepperoni.
That’s why The Voice of Guanacaste and food blog Todos a Comer went in search of the best pizza in Nicoya, Samara and Nosara. We started by asking our Facebook community to recommend their favorite pizza in the area. After reviewing almost 300 comments, we chose three pizzerias that were mentioned the most: Favorite Pizza, Locanda and Il Basilico.
Our friend Pedro Cajas led the expedition. He has experience in several kitchens, such as the Costa Rica Tennis Club – where he currently works as executive chef – and in restaurants like Fogo Brasil and Bacchus in San Jose. We asked the pizzerias to make their best pizza and the chef evaluated three elements to reach his verdict: ingredients, crust and cooking technique (type of oven).
The first stop was Favorite Pizza, next to the Pali supermarket in downtown Nicoya. The crispy twist was the pizza chosen by owners Cindy Vargas and Dionisio Cisneros. According to them, it’s one of the most frequently ordered pizzas.
The crust is made of cheese sticks that can be easily removed from the slice and dipped in a special tomato sauce. The crust is semi-thick and has cheese, peppers, sausage and onion.
According to Cindy, the business started six years ago with seven pizza classes on thick crust. Today they have four additional types including thin-crust and craft. They complete the menu with dishes like spaghetti, cheese sticks, salads and burritos.
The ace up ‘Favorite Pizza’s’ sleeve is the 17 years that Dionisio worked at Pizza Hut, where he learned everything he knows about the business. But, he says that Favorite’s recipe is unique and that it has been perfected through the years.
For chef Cajas, the kitchen’s cleanliness was one of the high points of the place, as well as the standardization of the processes used for preparing the pizza.
We care about which chef they hire, if they have everything for pizza so it never loses quality and that’s admirable,” Cajas said.
In the future, Cindy and Dionisio hope to move to a much bigger locale in the central district of the canton and continue their operations in Santa Cruz.
The second place we visited was Locanda, on the Samara coast. The manager Mauricio Ciminelli said that he was going to make a pizza that has the colors of the Italian flag. “The base of all pizza. The margarita.”
The inspiration for the pizza, according to Mauricio, is Italy, his birthplace. He’s been running Locanda for nine years. It is also a hotel in Nicoya.
The margarita was made in a clay, wood-burning stove. The crust is thin and has an imported Italian pomodoro sauce. It also has mozzarella, olive oil and basil.
“The clay oven provides a lot to the final product because it makes the crust crunchy and gives it a smokey flavor and a more homestyle taste,” Cajas said.
In Locanda, they also prepare other dishes inspired by the European nation such as pasta and seafood.
A little more than an hour later, we arrive at Il Basilico where we had New York pizza with several layers of gorgonzola cheese, arugula, prosciutto and a balsamic oil reduction.
The combination of flavors creates an amazing sensation on the palate. It stands out,” Cajas said.
The owner, Alexander Cabalceta, known as Chandy, was born in Santa Marta, Nosara and says that they are very careful about the freshness of the ingredients in II basilico and that they have been making pizza for more than 15 years, when they started the business.
“I started in Garza and six years ago I was able to build the place we are in now,” Cabalceta said.
He added that he is currently working on a new menu and creating a business plan to sell salads.
“When I think big, I envision a hotel where I can keep the restaurant below and some rooms above, but we have to keep working toward it,” Chandy said.
In Il Basilico, Italian food is the inspiration and salads, pastas and meats are among the other dishes on the menu.
At the end of the trip, we discovered three pizzas with very different styles and with recipes and ingredients carefully chosen down to the last detail with cooking methods that ranged from industrial ovens, commercial ovens and even wood-burning stoves.
Which one did we like best?