You may have noticed that the title of this column has been changed to acknowledge that my wife (and resident expert on Japanese food) and I are collaborating on these reviews.
Also, these reviews will no longer be limited strictly to restaurants; indeed, we have been given free rein to talk about any food-related issues. Though the editors may quickly regret this decision, we intend to follow up with this mandate, and will, in the coming months, write about such pithy issues as where are some of the best hot dogs in Cuenca, where can one find cayenne pepper or decent sourdough bread, and how do farmers around here get their sweet peppers to grow so massive.
For this week, we walked one of our dogs over to the new park, Parque la Libertad, between Eugenio Espejo and Pedro Leon, a couple of blocks south of Las Americas, on a 1.5 hectare site of what had previously been a city prison.
The most obvious landmark of the park is a tall observation tower which offers an expansive view of the city. We visited the park on the day before New Year, and thought the tower would be a great place to be to see all the fireworks at midnight. Unfortunately, the park is open only from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
It was a nice warm day when we were there, and there were many families with kids and dogs, enjoying the slides, zip line, ladders, climbing wall, extensive lawn and benches. There were a cazillion kids running through the water fountain. The park is planted with several dozen young trees which promise to add cooling shade in a few years as they mature.
The park includes a number of attractive retail and office spaces for lease, though only a few were occupied so far. One of these businesses is La Fornace, which enjoys a central location in the main retail building, and we stopped in for a snack, and to take advantage of their two-for-one pizza special offered on Mondays and Tuesdays.
La Fornace is primarily a pizza shop, and they advertise 24 flavors of pizzas and lasagna in small, medium and large sizes. The prices range from $4.95 for a small Margarita pizza with tomato, mozzarella and oregano, to $24.35 for a large Fornace pizza with an impressive list of ingredients: tomato, mozzarella, ham, pepper, mushrooms, salchicha, salami, onion, chicken, oregano and potato peelings (kidding). They also offer 16 kinds of ice cream dishes, coffee drinks, and hot or cold drinks with or without alcohol. Near the entrance is a large cooler holding 26 flavors of ice cream.
The dining area is large, bright and clean, with one wall being glass, looking out over the park.
We ordered a medium Pizza Funghi ($13.05) and a medium Pizza Espinache for the second one. We ate the mushroom pizza there and took the other one home. The pizza arrived at our table still bubbling hot and delicious. It had a chewy thinnish medium crust, and the toppings were satisfyingly gooey. It was perfectly seasoned with oregano, giving it a tasty heft without being overly herby. The medium size was sufficient for the two of us, as long as we didn’t give the dog any. She was miffed.
The waiter, who spoke some English, said that La Fornace at that location (there are nine locations in Cuenca and two in Azogues) is open every day at 10 a.m, and closed at 9:30 Monday to Friday, 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 p.m. on Sunday. We’re a bit curious about how their hours will mesh with the park hours.
WiFi was not yet available. The restaurant is disabled accessible and, since our dog wasn’t the only dog in the restaurant, dog friendly. Credit cards were not accepted the day we were there. This was a very new restaurant at this location, so I would assume that this would be available in the near future.
La Fornace in Parque la Libertad, Eugenio Espejo y Pedro Leon; Kid and pet friendly; Disabled accessible; Recommended.