A taste of Umbria in Panama

Spaguetti Fruto di Mari

This post is also available in: Spanish

Right in the heart of Bella Vista lies Nonna Maria, an Italian restaurant that brings a little taste of Rome to Panama. The eatery offers classic food from pasta dishes to delicious pizzas with an out-of-the-ordinary touch.

Spaguetti Fruto di Mari

Spaguetti Fruto di Mari.

The three owners, Deseo Morfei, Piergiorgio Conti and Andrea Conti from Umbria, arrived in Panama a few months ago. Two of them are related (Piergiorgio and Andrea). They and the chef, (Deseo), decided to name their restaurant after their favorite grandmother, Nonna Maria.

The story of how they come to be here is an unusual one. Piergiorgio, a professional athlete was coming to Panama for a Marathon and invited his cousin Andrea and his student Deseo Morfei to come along. While Piergiorgio was running, Deseo and Andrea were looking around Panama City when they came across a restaurant for sale.

Deseo, a chef who trained for eight years in one of the best hospitality schools of Spoleto, in his native Umbria, convinced Piergiorgio and Andrea to invest in the restaurant. By then the cousins have fallen in love with Panama and its people. Andrea even found himself a Panamanian girlfriend.



Andrea and Piergiorgio worked in Umbria in the family business distributing newspapers and magazine, kiosks and ice cream parlours, while Deseo was the chef of the Sheraton in Rome.

Deseo and Andrea decided to abandon their previous lives and move permanently to Panama. Piergiorgio, the marathon runner who came second in the International Marathon of the Americas, will travel between Italy and Panama.

Morfei is the brains behind the Nonna Maria menu. All pastas are homemade and its Spaguetti alla Carbonara is especially good. The meats and fish with delicious sauces are second to none, as well as the tiramisu following his grandmother’s special recipe. The wood-fired pizzas are incredible.

Nonna Maria opens Monday to Saturday 12m -3 p.m. and 6pm to 10p.m and on Sundays from 12m – 6pm and is located in Calle 47 Bella Vista.

For more information visit Nonna Maria Panama in Facebook or call 209-4840.


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