A mix of cultures, cuisines and celeste awaits upon a city rooftop at Chez Maria Restaurant. Stepping inside takes you on a trip to the Mediterranean through transportive images, warm colours, and thoughtful decor. Choose to indulge inside a vibrant dining room or on spacious rooftop with a panoramic view of the urban area framed by mountains.
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Chez Maria Restaurant
Chez Maria has been serving Italian and Lebanese food in Jamaica for over 15 years within the gastronomic hub of Kingston. Now at its 3rd established home, a lovely ambiance is curated to enhance conversations, laughter, and intimate moments whether you opt to dine inside or outside. The colourful interior has a warm, communal feel with some booth seats and long tables amongst Hammam-inspired design. Its stylish partitions can craft pockets of privacy, even if in a full room. Design details and amber lighting create an Arabian night vibe which spills out to the bar area.
A sophisticated bar serves a selection of beverages and blended mixes with views of cityscape and rolling mountains on either side. The coziness of the drink spot coupled with the environmental backdrop makes for an extra enjoyable happy hour or 2.
Sunshine illuminates Chez Maria restaurant’s open-air space in the day, and can be quite captivating during golden hour! Sunset is a coveted time on the Chez Maria rooftop, with good reason. A gilded evening hue gently blankets the establishment before ambient bulbs replace its glow when light transitions to dark.
The name of the restaurant speaks for itself. Translating to “the home of Maria” (a family matriarch), this family-owned treasure is a favourite of many not just for the food but also hearty service. The atmosphere and shareable nature of many of its traditional dishes create a home-style comfort. For example, my very first time at Chez Maria Restaurant was supposed to be a quick stop but the extensive hospitality and culinary spread made it anything but; now it’s one of my go-to restaurants in Kingston, and by extension Jamaica!
When visiting, you’ll observe families, couples, and groups of friends / colleagues comfortably dining in their respective spaces. It’s one of those places you would go and can guess someone is a regular patron just by how at ease they seem once arrived. It’s a lovely option for a group dinner and romantic dinner date in Kingston.
Chez Maria Restaurant menu is a collection of Lebanese food and Italian food, packed with vegetables, meats, legumes, and grains. Cooked-to-order meals here satisfy both the taste buds and the stomach! Dishes from either side of the menu are typically filling and served in good portion sizes. It is 1 of less than a handful of restaurants that I have to finish meals at home, which has happened for every single visit up to the date of this post.
Lebanese Food in Jamaica
At Chez Maria, it’s typically okay (read: encouraged) to eat with your hands, as traditionally practiced in Lebanon. Here, eating is by consensus and dishes can be served in an array of textures and aromas. To me something about grabbing and scooping into the mouth without the help of inedible utensils creates a more intimate experience with food.
For those not accustomed to Lebanese cuisine, the flavour isn’t like that of many meals offered in Jamaica in my experiences. Even though I haven’t been to Lebanon (yet, fingers crossed), the difference in the palate spectrum is noticeable enough to me that it tastes like authenticity, even without origin reference.
Serving sizes and cultural tradition beg for sharing of these dishes at Chez Maria restaurant. Before this, my acquaintance with Lebanese food in Jamaica was mainly from Beirut Mediterranean restaurant, but the stark contrast between the 2 for me has been knowledge impartation. By having the pleasure of learning food-sharing customs while at Chez Maria, I was reminded that tasting and experiencing foods are totally separate things! If you ever have the privilege to sit with 1 of the owners – who can often be seen helping around the restaurant and entertaining customers – you can quickly get a literal and figurative taste of Lebanon’s food culture.
Italian Restaurant in Kingston
The Italian side of the Chez Maria menu is led by worldwide favourites: pizza and pasta! Both the meat and vegetarian thin-crust pizzas are underscored with a taste of fresh herbs and spices. I love that they aren’t weighted with the guilt of oily globs and heavy cheeses. In that sense I was somewhat reminded of pizza at Lashings Treetop Bar. If you also delight in long, cheesy pulls of mozzarella you shan’t be disappointed with Chez Maria’s oven-baked pizza pies.
The pastas are also impressive, thanks in part to inclusions of sufficient helpings of meat/filling. Their cooking method carries the seasoning beyond the sauce to also infuse the noodles, something unfortunately not all restaurants have mastered. Personally, when visiting an eatery and ordering pasta it is either a test or a moreish comfort for me; at Chez Maria I gotta have the pasta every time, even when I have other main courses!
Jamaica has a multitude of international fare, especially in Kingston. Unlike Chez Maria, some foreign cuisine restaurants here heavily fuse Jamaican seasoning styles and dishes to better appease their patron majority of locals. I personally refer to those as “[insert nationality here]-inspired” instead of “[insert nationality here]” food. The Chez Maria experience however feels and tastes like a real deal!
What would you most likely order from the Chez Maria menu… Lebanese or Italian, or both???
- Delectability 90% 90%
- Food Variety 80% 80%
- Atmosphere 100% 100%
- Staff Interactions 100% 100%
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