In 1586, Sir Francis Drake of England attacked the Spanish holdings that now comprise the Dominican Republic, sacked the port of Santo Domingo, occupied the city for a month, and gradually razed most of the grand buildings until he received the large ransom he demanded. Gravely wounded from the fighting, Dutch pirate Johannes Frederikzoon, known on the seas as Captain Pat’e Palo, stayed in Santo Domingo to recuperate. He eventually forsook the pirate life permanently, preferring to stay in Santo Domingo to run the tavern near the Alcazar that carries his name to this day.
When you walk into the modern Pat’e Palo European Brasserie, purportedly the oldest tavern in the Americas, you feel the rich history of the place in the wonderfully restored colonial building. The barrel-vaulted stone ceilings, antique navigational equipment, and sea chests put you in the mood for a fun evening on the high seas. Head out to a table on the terrace with a close-up view of the Alcázar de Colón, or Columbus Alcazar, the focal point of the Colonial Zone. Viceroy Diego Colón (son of Christopher Columbus) commissioned the structure, whose exterior is dominated by many arches of beautiful coralline blocks, with the Rio Ozama in the background.
The view is amazing, but you’re here for the food. Internationally acclaimed, award-winning chef Savero Stassi constantly changes the menu of delicacies from around the world and creative specialties. You start off with a pitcher of sangria—sweet, strong, and just a little tart. But the best part is the delivery: The waiters are all dressed as swashbuckling pirates.
You choose an appetizer, and it sounds a little strange: shrimp on crispy apple. But the choice turns out to be spot on—it has a perfect mix of sweet and savory flavors, the shrimp balanced with Parmesan and ginger.
Now with full trust in the chef, you try another unusual creation: yuca gnocchi. The gnocchi have a great texture and are covered in a creamy Roquefort sauce. Other favorites at the table include the shrimp ravioli and the rack of lamb served with chipotle and tamarind.
The thoroughly modern meal, complemented by the view of the Alacazar in the fading evening light, is delicious. You cap off the evening with a chocolate truffle flavored with rum, tobacco, and coffee. It’s yet another unlikely combination, pulled off in style by a visionary chef. Only in Santo Domingo could history, gourmet cuisine, and incredible views come together to make for the perfect night out.