Cocina Italiana is a great pasta and wine restaurant in Tarija Bolivia, located just two blocks from the central plaza - Luis de Fuentes and open until late.
In a region like Tarija it seems so natural that Italian restaurants would be plentiful. Not only is Tarija Bolivia's wine country (nothing better with pasta than wine), it's also just across the border from Argentina, where about half the population is at least partially of Italian ancestry. In fact, the great majority of tourists who visit Tarija are from places like Jujuy and Salta Argentina as it's just a quick 7-hour bus ride up to Tarija.
Cocina Italiana serves most of the common Italian foods found in American Italian restaurants but without the overly excessive portion sizes. Here you'll enjoy a plentiful, but not over-filled, platter of pasta with Bolivia's best wines and delicious Italian desserts like tiramisu that won't leave you feeling like you'll be rolling out the door.
Dinner starts with a drink order (soda, juice, wine, or water) and little basket of bread sticks thin as pencils that, rather than being fluffy like bread, are more like dainty crackers with just a tiny bit of garlic and salt. They're actually thin strips of fried pizza crust. We tried a good variety of pastas with both tomato and pesto based sauces and they were all good.
Cocina Italiana is rather small with an inner courtyard dining area and a separate small indoor dining area. The service was very friendly and dinner was on the table fairly quickly which is great if you're dining with hungry impatient kids! There are also meat, chicken and fish dishes and pizza plus, of course, great Tarija wines. When the restaurant filled with families and children it got a little loud due to its small size, but overall it was a pleasant dining experience, the owner is really nice, the food is really good, and the price is right. For more restaurants in Tarija click on the 'Food' link below.