The story behind Sunset da Mona Lisa and its latest addition, Taittinger Terrace
By Sandra A. Berry • Photos by Carlos Aboyo
A Los Cabos landmark, Sunset da Mona Lisa is known as one of Baja’s most romantic restaurants. The story behind it has more than a couple fairy tale elements. That is the same sort of charm that envelops its newest venture, a champagne and oyster bar called Taittinger Terrace. But let’s start at the beginning.
Giorgio Battaglia—a native of Florence, Italy—came to Los Cabos in 1984. With him was his new bride, the niece of Abelardo Rodríguez, then interim president of México. The couple fell in love with the region and together opened Trattoria Da Giorgio in the outskirts of San José del Cabo. It was to be a venue for the Palmilla resort guests they entertained on sport shooting trips.
As Los Cabos’ reputation as a hot, world-class resort destination grew, so did the success of the restaurant. In 1991, the newly minted Ristorante Da Giorgio moved into new digs, growing even more popular for its reputation and the one-of-a-kind views it offered of the Cabo San Lucas Bay and Land’s End. But, in 2001, Hurricane Juliette devastated much of Los Cabos, completely destroying the huge palapa that covered the restaurant site. Battaglia and his family left the region soon after.
A group of Italian businesspeople moved to Los Cabos in 2004 and took over operation of the restaurant,
transforming Da Giorgio to Sunset da Mona Lisa. They invested heavily in bringing skilled professionals to run the restaurant, hired a chef who’d trained in Michelin Star–rated European restaurants, and developed the land below the restaurant as part of Residences at Monuments Beach.
Now, more than 60,000 cruise tourists opt to visit Sunset da Mona Lisa every year. There are several major events held here, attracting the likes of Hollywood stars, international politicians, and well-known artists. There’s not an evening that goes by without at least one marriage proposal, a wedding ceremony, or an anniversary celebration.
Taittinger Terrace. This page, from top: Exceptional starters include the porcini and truffle oysters.
“We value tradition,” says co-owner Giammarco Vela. “That is why we feel the history of this unique location is important for you to know as well as the future plans. Our commitment to our clientele and to Los Cabos is to preserve the natural charm of this site and to continue to make the necessary transformations that will always make your dining experience a truly memorable one.”
It’s impossible to overpraise the view from Sunset da Mona Lisa. In fact, the location qualified for fourth place on a Travelphant list of restaurants with the best views in the world. The saying goes that you can’t improve the Mona Lisa, but Vela believes that one must always seek to make things better.
Enter the Taittinger Terrace. As dramatic as the location was, Vela felt there was space that was not being utilized. He wanted to know what could be done to enhance the overall atmosphere. The answer came from Alberto Ribeiro, director of operations at the restaurant.
He had worked in an upscale restaurant in Barcelona, Spain, that had a champagne bar. His suggestion to Vela to create a champagne bar became what is now an elegant addition to the already romantic restaurant. Sunset da Mona Lisa has undergone a fantastic, transformative remodel and now features even more cutting-edge facilities to provide ultimate comfort for guests who have come to take in the view, the exquisite setting, the food, and the magic that comes from champagne.
Champagne Taittinger (pronounced “teh/ta~/zhay” in French) is one of a very few great and established names in the Champagne region of France. The Taittinger family roots date back to the 1700s. But it was only in 1932 that the name became synonymous with champagne on an international basis. Located in Reims, France, the vineyard spans more than 600 acres, and the cellar was once a former abbey operated by monks. The abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution, but it still has some of the relics and features of the abbey, where visitors are welcome to experience tastings, tours, and events. There you will learn there are nine different champagnes, from brut to the unequivocal rosé. Five million bottles are sold each year. Since 1960, Taittinger has become a champagne house of world renown and the connoisseur’s choice of champagne. A dedicated family runs the House of Taittinger, including its president and grandson of the founder, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, his son Clovis, and daughter Vitalie. All are committed to the quality and handcrafting of their champagnes and wines. It is no wonder Vela selected this iconic wine for his iconic restaurant.
The Taittinger Terrace at Sunset da Mona Lisa opened in December 2014, and it is the first of its kind not only in Baja but in all of Latin America. The sophisticated champagne terrace seats 60. Pools of light, fire pits, and comfortable rattan lounges encourage intimate conversation in front of low rectangular tables with an opening in the center for a gas fire. Bamboo poles separate areas for private groups. Indirect lighting and candlelight add to the romantic setting, not to mention the heavenly stars above and the lighted cruise ships in the harbor or a full moon. What better place to watch the city lights of our ever-expanding Cabo San Lucas?
Taittinger Terrace offers three champagne varietals by the flute, including the traditional Brut La Francaise and the elegant Grand Cru Prelude. Other varietals are offered by the bottle, including the incomparable and exquisite Comtes Rosé. Tasty and elegant hors d’oeuvres options include delicacies such as beluga caviar, oysters with black truffle, sea bass, and lobster from the Sea of Cortés. Lobster salad in a shot glass, oyster shots, and oysters on the half shell are all items that have been designed by chef Paolo della Corte to pair with the famous champagne.
Other options include fresh tuna roll with herbs, sea bass tartar with carbon cookie and mousseline chives, lobster medallion with black olive cream, or carbon black blini with smoked salmon and soft cream. Oyster platters include a variation of oysters in the form of oyster cocktail, baked or breaded.
For dessert, I think we can all agree chocolate and strawberries are the ideal ending to a perfect evening.
Top-notch French wines ranging from classic to rare vintages are also offered, such as the favorite Chablis Saint Martin and Pouilly Fuisse Lois Jadot. Both menus are perfectly paired throughout, and structured to offer an indulgent, unforgettable canapé and champagne tasting experience for guests with curious and luxurious palates.
The object of Taittinger Terrace is to create the perfect rendezvous for a pre-dinner drink or the private ambience for après-dinner solace. The attentive service makes this a favorite spot for hotel guests and high-society movers, enticed not only by the food and drink but also by the excellent jazz musicians who perform nightly
Whether you are looking for the perfect location to relax with a chilled glass of wine, or a place to enjoy a romantic setting for two with a flute of bubbly, Taittinger Terrace is guaranteed to impress. Come, enjoy, and let the bubbles flow.
For more compressive information about Sunset Da Mona Lisa please visit Los Cabos Guide click here.