I could tell that this asparagus orzo risotto was made with love. It tasted like something I’d eat after breaking up with a boyfriend: an affectionate blend of barley, squash, asparagus, and Parmesan cheese that reminded me of a mother or grandmother who shows love through food. This is the new restaurant La Fula in Santa Cruz: a labor of love.
La Fula has an older sister in Nicoya, La Fulana Cosa, which has been quite successful. When they decided to open the new place, the owners wanted to create a place that had its own voice.
The administrator, who everyone calls Chema (José María Fonseca Goldemberg), tells me that they didn’t want to open a “Fulanita” or a “Fulana Cosa 2;” they wanted something with its own identity. They achieved that goal. Starting with the decoration and ambiance, La Fula makes it clear that the only thing that is similar to its sister in Nicoya is the menu – although the Santa Cruz locale has some new surprises.
The restaurant, which is located 1.5 kilometers from the Universidad Latina, specializes in pasta and pizza, but they also serve cuts of beef, seafood, and salads. This last item is a main differentiating factor between it and La Fulana Cosa.
Opening this new space was not an impulse. Mili Goldenberg, owner and operator of La Fulana Cosa, had been asked to open a second restaurant many times before. She wasn’t convinced it was a good idea until her nephew, Chema, who had been living in Germany for 21 years, mentioned that he really wanted to come back to live in Costa Rica.
Mili offered him a chance to be the administrator of La Fula. One day after speaking with his aunt, Chema quit his job as a nurse in Berlin and bought a ticket to return to Costa Rica once and for all.
“I want this place to be a space where musicians feel very welcome. I grew up with my grandfather Max (Goldenberg’s) and my cousin Fidel (Gamboa’s) music. So I want this to be a place for music. That’s my dream,” Chema says as he shows me the space he intends to convert into a concert stage.
Address: Ferretería Esquipulas, Barrio Limón, Santa Cruz
The Good: The pizza is baked in a wood-burning oven
Large selection of seafood
Good quality for the price
The Bad: Closed Mondays