Jitomate Gourmet – a unique, compact gourmet sala, modestly but deftly decorated for gourmet presentations – is known for its bada-bing Italian pizzas, reputed to be the best pizzas around (a cliché these days – but not at lakeside), chiefly because their standards are authentic and they offer variations you may not have encountered before.
An added subtlety to the pizzas is the crust. It is thin and crispy and made of “happily sour” dough, a pizza base you might only find in Napoli, the beloved birthplace of the famous dish.
But aside from the pizzas, Jitomate Gourmet offers up a unique palette of Italian gourmet dishes, featured mainly as specialties of the house, among which are interesting twists on portabella al brie in a pomadoro or champiñones-garlic sauce, a light, flavorful panela served up Mediterranean style, a salad that in Spanish says “Salad for the Hungry” (or “let them eat salad”) and it is just that. Packed with enough for two, everything’s fresh and dressed nicely in a house dressing.
More than a review, this is a declaration to all readers to understand that Jitomate’s second name is Gourmet. Just as the pizzas are gustatorially special, so too are the restaurant entrees and specialties (featuring duck and rabbit dishes done Italian style), all splendidly conceived for a must-try gourmet menu. Girard (your chef) has been fashioning Italian food since he was 14 years old and has learned how to take everything Italian up several notches. And he will tell you all about it with great exuberance.
Something as Italian as Federico Fellini is the Italian Pie. You won’t find this or some of Girard’s other specials anywhere else in Ajijic. Everything is freshly made and many plates are definitely exotic-Italian.
All the presentations are done with a jeweler’s precision and inspiration. The Italian Pie was a sailing-vessel of a lasagna, fashioned with layers of spinach and cheeses and traditional Italian spices with a crisp taco-like sail that gave you the impression the whole thing had just arrived at harbor. It could aptly be called a pie in that it was so tender and delicious, considering it covered all food groups.
My guests shared a pizza. It seemed only fair, since we had so many variations of pizzas to choose from: This choice was a pizza one might call a Primavera, given that it was covered in a pesto sauce with vegetables. That’s right, it was green and blooming with God’s original foods. And with just an easy crusting of mozarella.
Lonches bañadas, paninos popular in Argentina (the Italian connection), are stuffed with fillings of your choice and drizzled with cheese over top. The postres too are freshly baked and the helados are rich, dense and textured. Try them with the apple strudel.
Jitomate Gourmet is at the west end of Ajijic, a half-mile past Los Sabinos on the lake side. It is inset between other venues, one of which is the small Lake Chapala Society thrift bazaar. The seating is indoor or out, with al fresco options in sofa chairs under umbrellas, a nice setting for a group of four or more.