The most beautiful window in Cabo San Lucas looks out across the festively lit gazebo in the center of the town square, Plaza Amelia Wilkes, towards an artful arrangement of colorfully painted villas that cling to a Pedregal hillside.
After a few glasses of Chianti and several helpings of Invita Bistro’s homemade breads and pastas, it’s rather easy to imagine you've been magically transported to Chef Antonello Lauri’s hometown and are now gazing wistfully at one of Rome’s seven hills.
Since opening in 2012, Invita Bistro has been one of the most popular of Los Cabos’ surprising number of Italian-themed restaurants. Who would have guessed such an appetite for pastas and pizzas existed at the bottom of the Baja California peninsula?
Local color at Invita Bistro in Cabo San Lucas includes romantic lighting and an evocative wine-themed painting from local artist Yandi Monardo — Photo courtesy of Invita Bistro
Cabo San Lucas – part of the larger Los Cabos municipality, which also includes sister city San José del Cabo – is a major tourist destination and draws large numbers of snowbirds, spring breakers and cruise ship passengers. So it’s understandable that a certain percentage of such visitors are more comfortable with lasagna or spaghetti than cecina de Yecapixtla or pescado zarandeado.
But such easy generalizations fail to account for the faithful patronage of Cabeños (the name for local residents), who keep the many Mediterranean outposts afloat during the slow summer months. Perhaps Italian, like Mexican food, knows no national boundaries.
Invita has carved out its own little niche among this subset of the local dining scene, largely on the basis of superb dishes made from generational recipes; traditional, family-style service; and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
The dining area is intimate, suffused with the intimate glow of romantic red lighting and overseen by a vividly colorful wall-length evocation of the spirit of Bacchus, god of wine, from local painter Yandi Monardo. And then there's that magical picture window, looking out over the heart of the city.
Chef and Co-owner Lauri makes many of his dishes from old family recipes. Highlights include Topo Morocho, the chef’s choice of five signature tapas; Carpaccio de Mar, thinly sliced fish with lime, olive oil and capers; Eggplant Parmesan, a legacy of his grandmother; and a memorable Saltimbocca à la Invita, made with beef medallions, ham and parmesan cheese.
One of the kitchen’s most celebrated creations, however, isn’t on the menu. Fresh homemade focaccia breads are a complimentary tableside taster, and they’re incredible: savory, sweet smelling and mouthwateringly delicious.
Invita also boasts one of the finest local collections of international (although predominantly Italian) wines, stored in temperature-controlled conditions along one of the restaurant’s walls. Special or by the glass selections are showcased on a blackboard in front of an old-fashioned wooden bar, which also serves as a staging ground for traditional Italian cocktails.
Espresso drinks and classic dessert favorites like tiramisu are also available.