Daily struggles can take their toll on our overall well being. Throughout our research we have found that nothing soothes the soul quite like delicious, wholesome food. After our most recent taste of such palatable food, and as promised, we returned to finish up our full dining report of the newly opened Kocina Il Forno.
Gaby: (via text) Just arrived at Kocina.
Trisha: (via text) 10-4! Five minutes away.
So many delicious starters to choose from before even getting to the selection of meats, salads, raw bar ceviches, signature pizzas, tacos, seafoods and, of course, desserts!
We sat at a table, right by the dining bar, in front of the open kitchen featuring the marvelous brick oven pizza where we could almost taste Kocina’s signature pizzas such as Pizza a lo Macho (Mussels, clams, shrimp & squid topped with an aji panca-garlic cilantro & onion puree topped with Mozarella), the Pizza de Lomo Saltado (Rib eye strips sauteed with tomato sauce along with onion & cilantro topped over Mozzarella cheese), or even the taste titillating Pizza Criolla with smoked sausage, salsa criolla and slices of red onion with tomatoes and vinegar.
Trisha: Okay, there’s not doubt in my mind. We’re starting with the Palta Rellena De Camarones. I mean, fresh avocado stuffed with shrimp, diced tomatoes, and red onions served with asparagus and house aji sauce. That’s a no brainer!
Gaby: I don’t know, are you sure you don’t want to just start with the Chuletas Gachas?
Trisha: Excuse you? (Giving Gaby a stern look).
Gaby: Yeah, yeah, I know it’s Gauchas, but I just had to (haha!).
Trisha: I’d of been genuinely surprised if you hadn’t.
Our server, hopefully more amused than annoyed by us, recommended one of the ceviches or the Lomo Saltado (Chilfa infused wok sauteed ribeye strips, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro in Kocina’s house stir fry sauce, served with steak fries and white rice) or the Pico de Macho (not on the menu), a variation of the Lomo Saltado, as an entree to follow up our delicious starter.
We opted for the Pico de Macho. As we watched the kitchen come together like an orchestra to prepare our melodic meal, it was nice to sit and relax on Kocina’s ultra sleek low back wall-to-wall seat. This once dungy, dark, low ceiling hole in the wall is now an open concept eatery with mellow gray walls, custom wooden tables, and minimalist decor. Its wall to ceiling windows let's Kocina’s guests enjoy the sight of the bustling Main Street, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. If you prefer to do your people watching from a closer angle, make sure to sit outside at Kocina’s front patio. This quaint space is ideal to take the afternoon off, enjoy some coffee and relax.
Gaby: We devoured our meal, but I was still curious about the tacos on the menu. (Yes, I was still thinking about food). The “Latin Infusion” tidbit on Kocina’s had me wondering. Were these tacos like the ones we're accustomed to?
Trisha: If curiosity kills the cat, then call me dead, because we decided to take the plunge and order 3 tacos of various meats. Our brains are a little hazy after that food coma, but take our word for it, they were LEGIT.
Gaby: Too legit to quit!
Trisha: (sigh) No, Gaby, just no.
As if we hadn’t eaten way past our breaking point already, we were served a delicious assortment of desserts by the chef: Yucca Cheesecake (rich and creamy cheesecake with yucca chiffon cake topped off with wild berries); Torta de Chocolate y Espresso (Tiramisu sandwiched between two layers of intense chocolate cake, all house made); Flan (Mexican custard served with roasted coconut shavings and whipped cream); and last but not least, Arroz con Leche (th5ick and creamy rice pudding with raisins, coconut shavings and cinnamon).
Stop by Kocina Il Forno for your next dining experience. As we previously mentioned, you can find this delightful new gem of a restaurant located right across from the McAllen Art Village on Main at 905 N Main St. or call ahead to 956-377-4333. You can also peruse their web site at www.kocinailforno.com, email them at email@example.com and visit their FB page @kocinailforno for the latest and greatest.
Gaby Jones and Trisha Watts work hand-in-hand with the service industry. Jones is in charge of craft and imported beer for L&F Distributors and Watts is the communications director for Visit McAllen. Each week they will have a new adventure and provide an opinion on various locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley.