Five Minutes With Cabo Chef Christian Ricci of Picaro

by Leslie Barrett on June 11, 2021 in Food+Drink, Travels,

Jaw-dropping sunset views, a quiet cozy atmosphere and the most delectable farm-to-table dining experience is a short plane trip from any major airport in Texas.

Italian Chef Christian Ricci has chosen the rustic chic hideaway Picaro Garden Cuisine in Rancho San Lucas as his muse for creating the most eclectic and tantalizing dishes from harvesting what grows on the land and swims in the sea.

Chef Ricci, who some say has a Pícaro-personality, takes advantage of what grows on the land and prepares dishes using methods discovered from rich traditions, or that he creates through his own research, or whim, to maintain the highest quality of the end product. Photo Arlen Rodriguez

Rancho San Lucas is one of the newest resort communities in Cabo San Lucas. The exclusive 834-acre resort is set in rolling desert foothills that slope to 1.2 miles of pristine beachfront on the Pacific Ocean.

Keep reading to find out more about the fascinating life and style of Chef Christian Ricci, who hails from Rome and who has now lived in Cabo for 12 years.

What are your favorite summer local ingredients?

Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is my favorite. It’s a versatile fruit with a mild taste and can be enjoyed by itself or used in everything from deserts to cocktails. I also really enjoy fresh mango in the summer months.

BLT Salad + Gorgonzola Dressing + Berries. Photo Arlen Rodriguez

From history, Picaro is an imp, with mischief up his sleeve. He survives on what he harvests from the land and catches from the sea. What does Pícaro mean to you? 

People have always said I have a Picaro personality and I relate to this type of unconventional, bohemian character. I love to have fun, go on adventures and enjoy life to the fullest. I am happiest when I am in nature, sleeping in a tent or walking in the desert or fishing alone at night. Similarly, I take advantage of what grows on the land and try to incorporate unexpected ingredients in the dishes we serve. If you’re an adventurous traveler and eater, this restaurant is for you.

Coyote’s Journey Cocktail. Photo Arlen Rodriguez

When guests walk into Pícaro, which emotions do you hope the setting evokes? 

The restaurant’s rustic interior, open kitchen, and eclectic décor make it feel warm and inviting, like you just walked into someone’s home. The atmosphere conjures thoughts of an Italian hideaway or dining in a Tuscan villa. 

Create, in words, your ideal Pícaro charcuterie board.

At Picaro, we always aim to present dishes in a unique way. We cure our meat using an ancient recipe and top quality ingredients, so it’s truly something you cannot find anywhere else. Capicollo, bresaola, pancetta and pickled vegetables are a must. We love to combine different flavors that complement each other on the board. And of course, the board wouldn’t be complete without our homemade bread. 

Focaccia + Smoked Tuna + Rucola + Avocado. Photo Arlen Rodriguez

What dishes on the summer menu would you recommend as “must haves?”

A few of our ‘must have’ dishes will be our homemade potato gnocchi with fresh pesto, burrata and cherries, our whole roasted fish, and our purple risotto with gorgonzola cheese. Our menu changes seasonally and sometimes even daily, allowing us to serve only the freshest, locally-sourced ingredients.

What are your most unusual summer cocktail ingredients?

I am always trying new things. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with chollas, a fruit that comes from a cactus found in the Mexican desert. It’s fabulous in cocktails – a little bit sour, similar to a tomatillo. It’s the perfect ingredient for a summer margarita.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese + Guajillo Shrimp. Photo Arlen Rodriguez

Describe your garden right now and what special dishes you are creating from it.

Our restaurant and garden concept tries to maintain the gastronomic tradition developed by mothers and grandmothers throughout history. So, we have a lot of herbs like rosemary, sage and lavender. We are also growing some yellow pear tomatoes that we use in salads, hibiscus flowers that we incorporate in cocktails and ice cream, and swiss chard which we steam and serve as a side dish.

Black Forest Cake + Rosemary/Mascarpone Cream. Photo Arlen Rodriguez

Have you created a signature summer dessert to top off an unforgettable evening?

“Yes! Our coffee and amaretto granita is inspired by the famous Sicilian granitas typically enjoyed during the hot summer months. We also make a delicious mango samosa with rice pudding. 

Located 15 minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas, a deep-sea fishing, golf and nightlife capital, the gated enclave of Rancho San Lucas occupies a privileged location that offers a level of serenity rarely found in Cabo. The property includes the luxurious Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas, an all-suite hotel boasting ocean views from every room. The low-density community is elevating the standard of coastal living in Cabo with The Villas at Rancho San Lucas and the Norman Estates and has real estate priced from $425,000 to $7 million.

Read more about staying at Rancho San Lucas.

Photo courtesy Antonio Cuellar Photography

Cover photo courtesy Arlen Rodriguez

Leslie Barrett is a book publicist, eater and wanderer who occasionally writes about her culinary and travel adventures.