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a plate of food with meat and vegetables

New week, new places to visit and things to do in Punta Cana! We want to point you to a wonderful restaurant in town: Isabella steak & bistro. The wonderful owners met each other in a restaurant where they worked together and decided to create their own place. Let’s dig in!

Where do we find Isabella?

Isabella steak & bistro is located in the Blue Mall, a new mall in Punta Cana that still has that fresh vibe. Before you experience your delish dinner, you could stroll around the mall and hop into some nice shops. Or have a look at the water fountain show!

The Restaurant Couple

Back to Isabella. Native Dominican Anneliese and Uruguayan native Gabriel own the restaurant. After meeting each other in a restaurant in Santo Domingo six years ago, they hit it off and started dating. Anneliese worked in the restaurant mixing salads in the kitchen – and Gabr the el was sous-chef. A cute couple with their foodie hearts in the right place! After owning a restaurant in Santo Domingo, they moved to Punta Cana and opened Isabella.

“Isabella is our daughter. We actually have another child now AND I’m pregnant, so I don’t know what our other children will think of this name. Oh well. We could always name dishes after the other ones, or change the name,” laughs Anneliese.

As Isabella steak & bistro opened 5 months ago, they’re still relatively fresh in the Punta Cana industry. Gabriel works as the restaurant’s chef and Anneliese does the management. Open from 8 am til 12 pm, this restaurant does breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even though breakfast is a definite recommendation, we’ll focus on dinner in this blog!

Our visit

We visited Isabella’s on a Friday night, ready to dive into the weekend. The ambiance in the restaurant feels fancy, but relaxing. They characterize themselves with their open kitchen interior, where you can sometimes almost taste the flames rising up. It’s a true spectacle!

“We have confidence in our cooking, we don’t mind you looking into the kitchen to see what we’re doing. We don’t have anything to hide!” says Anneliese.

Isabella is a modern looking industrial venue, accessorized with a 70ies twist, like big glass look-throughs. The furniture is of the same snit: we sit on retro 70ies chairs, made of a dark wood and blue soft fabric. Another happy factor is the music in the background! A playlist of absolute classics, fused to reggae remakes. A song we adored? I want to know what love is by Foreigner – the Reggae remix!

The Food Factor at Isabella’s

Back to the most important factor: food. What can you expect at Isabella? They have a steak station, a fish section, a hamburger menu and even pastas & risottos! There are raw dishes,
soups & salads and a handful of sides, like crispy corn and fried veggies. Then there’s the mini-me option for possible children coming with you, AND the chef’s favorite cuts for people who can’t decide and truly want the best. The cool thing about this restaurant? It has a brick kiln and chef Gabriel also prepares classic Uruguayan dishes.

We took some picks from various menus. The spicy Tuna Tataki (raw dishes) is a fabulous recommendation. It’s incredibly colourful: green avocado, pink tuna, red tomatoes, yellow edible flowers and black sesame seeds. This top dish is Japanese with a Caribbean twist and a true must-eat at Isabella’s. Then we ate the pincho de mollejas crocante (appetizers), of grilled pieces of cow meat with crunchy broken potato strings. A good one. The gnocchi (pastas) filled with cheddar cheese might be a bit of a guilty pleasure, but it’s our fav. Served with a side of tomatoes and rocket, it’s not too heavy on the stomach.

Meatwise, we went rib eye with grilled veggies – it was truly grilled to perfection. Then a special on the menu, empanadas. Nothing special, you’d say, classic Caribbean street food. Chef Gabriel, however, does three different sorts of empanadas in a true Uruguayan way. There’s a cheese empanada, a lengua (cow tongue) empanada and a chicken empanada. All structured differently with a different closure to tell what´s inside like the Uruguayan habit. We liked the chicken one best.

Drinks are as important – and well done at Isabella’s. We liked the Sangria tinta, even served without alcohol (but with blackcurrant juice) it’s a good pick. Don’t know what to order? The menu isn’t one to stress about, but if you really don’t know, you can always ask Anneliese to recommend something.

Our verdict

We would give Isabella one tip: cover up the air conditioning on the ceiling for a slightly cuter interior. Food wise? It’s a big, big recommendation!

What do other people say?

E: “We met the chef-owner and his wife and they are caring, young people with a great restaurant!! Food selection was excellent. The brie appetizer was small but delicious with great crackers. We shared the lasagna as an appetizer and it was very fresh with a great sauce. For main courses, we had the recommended steak, grilled chicken!!, barbecued ribs!! and fish. I also heard that the octopus which is not on the menu is also very good.

I would go back in a heartbeat.”

Took some beautiful photos of your plate at Isabella? Tag us using #bopthroughpuntacana or @bestofpuntacanaofficial!

Photo: Tuna Tataki