A screened veranda reaches over a natural salt-water lagoon on a 14-acre bird sanctuary, creating an extraordinary natural setting for dinner at Pappagallo. Enjoy the view of the lagoon as you walk across a large wooden deck approaching the front door. Once in the dining room, if you look up at the rafters you'll see the interior weaving of an original Cayman silver thatched roof. The restaurant floor and walls were reconstructed after flooding from Hurricane Ivan, but the huge roof stayed in place. Over 30 years old, it is the largest traditional Caymanian thatch on the island. In beautiful repair, during the day sunlight pours in from the high gables and at night huge vertical palm fans and custom wall sconces made of banana leaves make this a natural and architectural destination, as well as a fine restaurant. It looks and feels like an exotic, tropical fantasy and indeed it is. Pappagallo means parrot, and the mascot is an African gray named Humphrey Bogart.

Opened in 1985, over the years it has become a classic to this island, and though it began as a traditional Italian eatery, it has evolved into an eclectic Caymanian original. Chef Marco Signori, trained at a culinary school in Veneto, appreciates locally sourced greens, and makes fresh pasta and bread every day. A favorite starter is the fresh arugula, beet, and cucumber salad with just a brushing of cream to bring out the natural sweetness of the yellow beets. The oven-roasted local pumpkin is mixed with bacon and rosemary. One bite of the lobster ravioli or tortelloni de salmone confirms that the chef has mastered the art of mixing satisfying pastas with the textures and flavors of the sea. Other offerings are unique and equally masterful—Ravioli all’Anatra is spinach pasta filled with roast duck sautéed with mushrooms in a very light cream sauce topped with pine nuts. For something completely different, you won’t find a risotto made with butternut squash, onion, and parmesan over a bed of dark chocolate anywhere else. Red beet gnocchi is equally unexpected, with a gorgonzola cream sauce and topped with greens and macadamia nuts.  The owner of over 25 years is named Vico, and he will come to your table to make sure everything is perfect. 

Don’t miss a taste from the bar as well. The bartender is not simply a mixologist but an alchemist, whose specialty is a Rossini, prosecco, and fresh strawberry purée. He makes his own perfectly balanced limoncello, a nice finish for a meal here. The striking setting, delicious and satisfying food, and the welcoming atmosphere make the 15-minute drive up to the north end of West Bay more than worth it.