Quito Favorite Arrives in Manta. Rolanda Stinson-Smiley
When I first arrived in Manta in May 2021, there were many construction projects around the city that seemed to be on pause because of the pandemic. One such project was a massive restaurant on “Restaurant Row” (Calle 32). The building was made of beautiful brick and stone with two stories and a large sign that read “La Briciola Coming Soon.” A few local friends had commented on how exciting it was to have this restaurant opening in Manta because the one in Quito was so good.
La Briciola Restaurante originated in and has a location in Quito. There’s also a location in Cumbaya and the newest addition to the family of restaurants has opened in Manta. The Manta location had its grand opening the first week of February 2022. This trio of restaurants are owned by Italian couple Fabio Marotti and Margarita Ledesma, who moved to Quito from Italy and opened the first La Briciola restaurant in 1998. Since then, La Briciola has been reviewed as one of the best restaurants in Quito. Many people expected this new addition in Manta to offer the same high standard of food and service, and that has unquestionably been the case.
The grand scale of the building and decor certainly leads you to believe that you are in store for a 5-star meal. The massively lit “La Briciola Restaurante” sign and the grand entranceway feels like luxury upon first entering. Like many restaurants in Manta, you have the option of dining indoors or outdoors and both areas are as beautiful as they are vast. What’s really unique about La Briciola is there’s a shop right in the front of the restaurant with racks and racks of the best varieties of Italian, European, and South American wine. You can purchase this wine as well as other liquors, dried pastas, and sauces. A really great idea if you want to recreate some of La Briciola’s signature dishes and drinks at home.
The waitstaff are fantastic in both demeanor and service and are super attentive to your every need. Many of them also speak English. The menu is offered in both Spanish and English. Upon seating, you are served a complimentary appetizer of bruschetta and grilled zucchini - turns out, this is actually a perfect pairing. They also bring to the table a basket of various breads. The menu is quite large, offering two full pages dedicated to just their varieties of pizzas. The highlight of the menu is probably the handmade pastas, some with fillings and some without. There’s also gnocchi, steaks, pork chops, and fish. The pastas and gnocchi can be combined with any of their famous sauces like bolognese, 4-cheese, pesto, or mushroom, just to name a few. My personal favorite is the bolognese sauce.
I’ve been to La Briciola twice since they opened and each time was an excellent experience. The service is impeccable and the food is traditional Italian with an Ecuadorian flair. Some of the dishes I’ve tried are the handmade pasta, gnocchi, lomo fino, lasagne, and pizza. Everything was delicious. I have to put in an emphatic recommendation for the gnocchi. I always hear chefs on TV say that gnocchi should be like little pillows, but I’ve never really understood or experienced that. La Briciola literally makes gnocchi pillows. They were melt in the mouth good, especially paired with the hearty bolognese sauce.
And have I mentioned their desserts! I’ve had tiramisu all over the place, in the U.S. and here in Ecuador. But the tiramisu at La Briciola was simply divine. The mascarpone cream was so light but luscious at the same time. The coffee flavor was there but not overpowering, and the dusting of the cocoa powder added a subtle bitterness that brought it all together. The chocolate mousse also deserves praise as it too was delicious and rich without being too sweet.
I have been to many fine dining Italian restaurants in the U.S. and I will say La Briciola meets and in some cases exceeds a lot of them. From their super staff to the excellent quality of their food and ingredients, this restaurant is worthy of a visit and many return visits for sure.