I think you know by now that I love encouraging people to discover Punta Cana.
Especially since there has been a lot of talk about how it is better to not leave a resort or a gated community in Punta Cana. In my new two-weekly blogs I am going to give you information about life and things to do outside the resorts in Punta Cana. So here it is, going beyond the resorts in Punta Cana part 2: From Naples, to Santo Domingo, to Punta Cana, Liberato de Simone, owner of Dolce Italia, has seen it all! Dolce Italia also happens to be one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Punta Cana.
“I came to Dominican Republic 9 years ago,” Liberato de Simone (48) says with a smile on his face. He sits at a table of his Italian restaurant Dolce Italia in Bavaro – Punta Cana. Before he begins to talk about his love for the town he shows a picture of his newborn son Mattia. “He is wonderful. It is such a nice little boy,” Liberato declares proudly. The white big helium balloon in the restaurant with the words ‘it’s a boy’ endorses his statement. The rest of the place breathes Italy. From the wooden crates on the wall that have the finest Italian wine, beer, tomato paste and bottles of S. Pellegrino in them, to the big oven where the flames rise up as pizzas are being positioned to evenly bake on all sides, yes, this place is as Italian as it can be.
From Naples to Punta Cana
Growing up in Naples in Italy, Liberato became fascinated with pizzas. At the age of 12 he decided to do something with his interest. He went to Da Vittorio, one of the most popular restaurants in the city, to ask if they could teach him how to make pizza. Vittorio the owner of the establishment gave him a chance. “At first I was only allowed to cut vegetables and other things like mozzarella. Mister Vittorio taught me the trades of pizza making step by step until I was ready to make my first pizza 2 years later. It was a simple one. A Margarita, but I was so proud!” Liberato says.
From that moment Liberato was sold.
After finishing school he moved to Monfalcone to work in the restaurant of his uncle.
“Four of my uncles are pizzeros. I loved working with them and at the age of 23 I opened my own restaurant. It was great, but when I was 39 we decided to sell it and I came to Dominican Republic. It was mainly for a holiday, but I fell in love with the island. The people were very friendly, and the beaches were stunning. I made the choice to open a restaurant in Santo Domingo. Dolce Italia. After 7 years this Plaza, Plaza Palma Real, approached me to open a Dolce Italia here in Punta Cana, and I did!”
“I love living in Punta Cana. It is a different kind of quality of life. It is more tranquil and you have the beaches. It is safe and beautiful. My favourite place is definitely the beach. Yes, there are a lot of Italians here. I think they also fell in love with Punta Cana!” Vittorio says laughing.
Vittorio’s phone rings. He explains something in Italian to the person on the other end of the line. Meanwhile a woman enters the restaurant. Instead of heading over to the restaurant area she walks over to the bakery side of Dolce Italia with fresh baked bread, cannolis, desserts with cream and chocolate, and cakes. She also almost drools over the bonbons that are displayed in the showcase at the window.
“This is also part of Dolce Italia! I love sweet things. Did you know that I just start making these bonbons a week ago?” Liberato proudly shows the machine that he uses to make the bonbons in the bakery part of the restaurant where the woman was standing. “I just watched a lot of Youtube videos and started experiencing with flavours. I have mojito, ginger, lime and mint, pistachio and other flavours. I just love it. We make everything fresh in the bakery here and transport it to our location in Santo Domingo too. I also make Ice Cream with my brother. Our brand Geppetto was number 9 of the world in ice creams in 2012.”
Like La Casa Di Mamma
One would think that Liberato’s favourite dish would be pizza, since he also runs a certified pizza academy in Santo Domingo, on the contrary his favourite food is more simple. “Here at Dolce Italia we use products that we import directly from Italy. I personally love a traditional dish. Very simple. Just some pecorino, parmesan and pasta with a tomato sauce that has been cooked traditionally for 3 hours. When I smell and eat this, I am back in Naples in my mother’s kitchen.”
Liberato stands up to glance at the pizza that one of his staff members is putting in the oven. He smiles and greets a couple that comes in. It is back to business as usual.
Visit Dolce Italia in Plaza Palma Real in Bavaro – Punta Cana.
Read about how to get around in Punta Cana here. If you want to know more about investing overseas read this blog here.
Main Picture by : Group Palmera DR