La Vespa restaurant celebrated its second anniversary as Panama City’s premier Italian restaurant in June, hosting a Carnival of Venice featuring a grand buffet of its most popular dishes. In two short years, La Vespa has cultivated a loyal following for its artisan pizzas and gourmet dishes, specializing in fresh and natural ingredients, with a distinctly Italian flair.
Located in the heart of the financial district, La Vespa delivers an authentic Italian experience, offering the type of food and atmosphere found in the world’s finest Italian restaurants. From the link to the famed scooters that gave the restaurant its name to an array of Campari cocktails, La Vespa provides a full immersion in Italia.
Beyond the food, there is an ambiance that celebrates the importance of food and restaurants in Italian life. La Vespa has developed as a meeting point for the local Italian community and expats appreciative of the gourmet dishes and the elegant-but-relaxed atmosphere.
Not surprisingly, La Vespa is always one of top-ranked restaurants on TripAdvisor for Panama City, popular with both families and true connoisseurs, who applaud the gourmet dishes and extensive wine list. Owners Fred DeLuca and his wife Diana took over control of the restaurant in April and made a variety of dynamic changes, including new managers, more special events and increased marketing, while maintaining the focus of beautiful cuisine.
“For us it all starts with just awesome and authentic Italian food prepared by Italian chefs, but then we had to put together an amazing team of waiters, bartenders and management,” Diana says. “We do absolutely everything in house, so we all participate in all aspects of the business.”
A visit to La Vespa might start with an Aperol Spritz, a traditional Italian aperitif and a specialty of the bartender. The menu is diverse and flavorful, with everything from pizzas for the kids to the finest gourmet Italian in Panama City.
The meal might begin with Antipasto Rustico, a carefully selected mix of the finest Italian cold cuts with dry tomatoes, mushrooms and artichokes; perhaps followed by the Spaghetti allo Scoglio, with fresh prawns, octopus, clams and mussels; or the Risotto porcini e tartufo, a house specialty with truffle butter, porcini mushrooms and Grana cheese. If it’s in season, don’t miss the Mediterranean Linguini with fresh lobster. Still room for dessert? Don’t miss the one-of-a-kind Nutella Tiramisu or Mousse La Vespa.
While regulars have their favorite dishes, La Vespa is always looking to innovate and explore new dishes. You never know what new wonders will emerge from the kitchen. Every week La Vespa changes its Chef Suggestions Menu, pulling from the inspiration of La Vespa’s internationally-trained chefs. On Thursday nights, the chef prepares a traditional Italian dish that is not on the menu, and the atmosphere is enlivened by music from some of the city’s finest artists, such as Agustín Yonson, Erika Baum and Roberto di Maso.
There is always something going on at La Vespa, from elegant wine and cheese tastings and rum and cigar evenings to special menus. After work on Friday, executives and office workers from around the city gather for the weekly After Office part, which starts at 7 p.m. with a DJ and house music on the terrace, spiced with a special antipasti buffet and cocktail for $12.
Although La Vespa is located in the heart of the city, there is free self-parking during the day and valet parking at night. La Vespa also offers free delivery; use a special Fidelity Card La Vespa, you get a free pizza after your eighth pizza delivery. La Vespa is active on social media—including Facebook and Instagram–where you can find the latest deals and menu items.
“In the end though, the best advertising is word of mouth, satisfied customers who come back and bring their friends,” Diana says.
La Vespa is currently offering a VIP Card, valid through the end of the year, offering 10 percent off meals. Punta Pacifica Realty is happy to recommend La Vespa to all our friends, and we are offering the VIP Card as part of our welcoming package for new rental clients.
La Vespa, Edif. Centro Magna Corp., Calle Manuel Icaza, Obarrio, Panama City. +507 396-3407; www.lavespapanama.com/