Bolivian Restaurant Review: Cocina Italiana Restaurant in Tarija Bolivia

(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)

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.

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Comments for Bolivian Restaurant Review: Cocina Italiana Restaurant in Tarija Bolivia

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May 27, 2015
i wish i could
by: mason

Wow, I wish I could visit the Cocina Italiana Restaurant the next visit. The best feature I loved about this restaurant is the inner courtyard dining area. Yes I have two hungry impatient kids. They are very fond of Italian dishes.

Jul 17, 2013
Pizza in Tarija
by: Anonymous

Pizza Pazza Macondo has amazing pizza and they sometimes make other Italian-style appetizers. The owner is Bolivian but her husband is from Argentina.

Jul 17, 2013
Beg to differ
by: Anonymous

I beg to differ. During at least three months of the year Tarija is absolutely GLUTTED with tourists from Argentina. You can scarcely get a hotel room.

Gatto Pardo also has some very good Italian cuisine if you are looking for variety and there is another Italian restaurant across from the Museo Paleontologico but I can't remember the name.

C.L. (I am also a resident of Tarija).

Jul 16, 2013
Comments on opinion on La Cocina
by: Fouad Abbas

Re Italian restaurants
>In a region like Tarija it seems so natural that Italian restaurants would be plentiful. Yes, it seems, but isn’t. Sadly, La Cocina is the ONLY Italian restaurant in the city and probably in all of Southern Bolivia.

Re Tourists
No tourists from Argentina come to Tarija. The traffic is entirely the other way round.

Re Traffic to/from Salta
It’s not 7 hours but more like 10-12 (distance is over 500 km) and it certainly isn’t quick. Crossing the land border by public transport is messy and requires switching vehicles several times. Details on request.

All the other references to La Cocina are entirely correct. Being the only Italian restaurant in town, they could afford to be sloppy or expensive. It’s highly to their credit that they aren’t.

A.F., Tarija resident and weekly patron of La Cocina

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