MY FIRST exposure to Italian cuisine was via 3M pizza along the street fronting the now GMA 7 building in Timog. To me, it was such a treat whenever my parents would bring this home or we’d pay a visit to the pizza that was heated in a toaster oven right in front of you. Then came Italian Village and, all of a sudden, 3M was no longer authentic.
We’ve come a long long way. Today, there are dozens of authentic Italian restaurants complete with imported ingredients. We have also foreign chefs specializing in Italian cuisine. These foreign chefs have surely made an impact on our shores with the training of their local counterparts, as well as the recipes and teaching skills being shared through our various culinary schools.
Just last week, I was talking to a foodie friend who had just spent a month in Tuscany. Curious, I asked what he thought was the most delicious dish he had tried on this trip. His answer, super basic – an al dente cooked pasta with wilted garlic and onions, sliced cherry tomatoes, almost raw, fresh basil and Parmiggiano.
When I heard this, I smiled. I, too, enjoy the simple sauce pastas. I prefer these to the complicated ones with confusing flavors. I love the Tartufo pasta of Mamou or the simple garlic and chili pasta of Bellini’s restaurant at the Marikina Shoe fair in Cubao.
Simplicity in cooking is what good Italian food is to me. They rely on superior ingredients. If foie gras is my favorite in French cuisine, it’s white truffles for Italian cuisine. I’ll settle for white truffle oil. Many local Italian restaurants have these same qualities.
Good food, affordable prices
I had been to this fine dining Italian restaurant in the past but was never really impressed by it. That all changed when an invitation from a friend, Aying de Leon, came.
L’Opera has been around for decades. I guess I just ordered the wrong items. This time, we had the Spaghetti Vongole or baby clams with light white wine sauce and the tortelli al Profomo di Tartufo or duck filled ravioli with truffle sauce. For dessert, I loved the Panna Cotta with walnuts and honey. All these are to die for. My friends swear by the Tiramisu.
In my culinary adventures all over, I have come to the conclusion that for a restaurant to succeed in our shores, it must have two things: affordable prices and good food. I found such a place in Bistro Ravioli at the Mall Of Asia. Here are the dishes I sampled and do recommend: Foccacia With Spinach dip and Caesar salad to start with. For pasta, Puttanesca with sun-dried tomatoes, Panchetta Carbonara, Garlic Seafood and the Chicken Pesto Spaghetti.
Among the pizzas, I recommend the Shrimp Basil. Also the simple Margherita and the Quatrrro Formaggio Pizzas. All these are baked in Jerry Yu’s ceramic oven. Pizzas are all thin-crust and are crunchy and chewy.
Chef Raymond didn’t stop until he was happy with the consistency of his pizza crust. That’s perfection.
And if you think the good food stops here, wait till you try their chocolate lava cake and the Strawberry Panna Cotta for dessert.
After discovering these two places, I can choose to sample fine dining or something quick and good with the family.
Check them out!
L’Opera is located at the Fort Entertainment Complex Fort Bonifacio. Call 8893963 and 8892784.
Bistro Ravioli is at the Mall of Asia, 8040577.
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