The ever-popular Ristorante Pappagallo has been attracting diners to its lush lagoon-side location in West Bay for 25 years.
Humphrey Bogart, or just Bogie for short, the restaurant’s friendly African gray parrot, welcomes guests as they enter and has been doing so for 21 years.
Owner Vico Testori says he is proud to have been serving the dining population of Cayman and its tourists for a quarter of a century.
“We have evolved with the Island. When we started, there was just us, the Caribbean Club and Grand Old House. We provided a necessary service in the beginning. There are more restaurants now, but we are still providing an important service.
“We have on our menu the same lobster recipe we had 25 years ago, but we’ve also added many new dishes over the years and evolved and changed with the Island,” Mr. Testori said.
He said it was important for any restaurant to be involved with and considered a part of the community. To this end, Pappagallo has hosted many charitable events over the years.
The Italian and Caribbean restaurant is situated on a 14-acre bird sanctuary, which overlooks a natural salt water lagoon that holds an abundance of wildlife.
Inside, diners can enjoy their meals while watching and being watched by a variety of preening macaws, parrots and other birds in enormous glass-front cages in one of the two dining rooms.
There is also a third eating area – the Garden Patio, a screened in porch where people can eat al fresco in the winter months.
When the restaurant first opened, it had one dining room and a lounge, but as demand grew, so did the building and the dining areas, Mr. Testori said.
“In the old days, there were not many hotels here, so our clientele was mostly local,” he said, recalling a time when water was delivered to the Grand Cayman by boat and fresh fruit and vegetables were not always plentiful.
“Those were challenging times, but they were also the good old days. People appreciated things more then, because they were difficult to get,” he said.
As a sign of the times, the restaurant last year re-launched its website, which now gives a detailed, animated map of how to get to the restaurant, which can be hard to find if a person is not familiar with the area.
Pappagallo, the Italian word for parrot, opened in the tourist season in 1985 and has been going strong ever since.
Natural materials were used in the building during its construction with bamboo, mahogany and wicker, marble, thatch, rustic wood and Caymanite.
Perhaps the most noticeable feature of the restaurant, its thatched roof, is 30 feet tall at its highest point and is made up of 100,000 silver thatch palms fronds which took more than six months to construct.
Head chef at Pappagallo is Steve Wagner who has worked there since 1992. His cooking style is described by the restaurant as “bold and yet simple”.
Under his guidance, the menu changes regularly, but its staple of fresh, home-made pastas and bread and locally caught seafood are always present.
To complement any and all choices of meals, the restaurant offers an award winning wine list of more than 400 wines from around the world, some of which are exclusive to Pappagallo.
The restaurant is open seven days a week for dinner, from 6pm to 10.30pm.