Someone I didn’t know sent me a note on my messenger—inviting me to a new restaurant.
La Spezia in Quezon City has an Italian-influenced menu.
Chefs Sean Yuquimpo and Aaron Shiu, who both attended Enderun College, are the young partners who opened the restaurant a few months back.
Why Enderun? Apart from its superior equipment, it’s also blessed with talented instructors in chefs Martin Kaspar and Thomas Wenger and executive chef See Cheong Yan. In any culinary school, instructors are key to the success of graduates.
Yuquimpo took his MBA in La Roches in Switzerland, while Shiu trained at the Ducasse Institute in Paris, and Le Atelier Robuchon and Spoon, both in Hong Kong.
I must confess, I sometimes prejudge the food by the age of the chefs. I did so in this case. But the moment I heard of their work experience and exposure, that doubt transformed into excitement.
The exposed palate of a chef plays a major, if not the most important, role in a restaurant’s menu selection and taste.
We were first given a burrata. This is buffalo mozzarella, with grilled corn, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and balsamic Modena. Owing to the textures, this was the best burrata I have tried in Manila.
It had the usual bouncy and rubbery outside, but the inside was much softer. Topped with sea salt and olive oil, it was outstanding.
I mentioned to Shiu that a friend of mine used to make simple scrambled eggs with shaved truffles. In no time, there were scrambled eggs with freshly grated black truffles. I wanted to faint! It was not on the menu.
Then came the Polenta Fritta, polenta fritters much like huge fries with lemon-infused ricotta cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano. Crunchy outside and creamy inside, the cheese added a wonderful saltiness to this appetizer.
Then came the Spaghetti Aglio Pesca, perfectly cooked pasta topped with an assortment of freshly cooked seafood. There, too, was a Pasta Tartufo made with black truffles, cream, almonds and EVOO.
I tried the Risotto con Piselli e Pancetta, summer peas, Italian bacon, arborio rice and Parmigiano Reggiano topped with EVOO.
For main, I had Pollo Alla Parmigiana-Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, homemade pomodoro sauce, basil, sauce mornay and EVOO. I never enjoyed this dish in the past, but this version was different. Flavors were subtle, and the crispy chicken stood out with the mild flavor of the tomato sauce.
I also had the Bistecca Alla Florentina. It was a 1-kg porterhouse steak simply grilled with sea salt and pepper and topped with black Alba truffles.
Finally, I tried the Stinco de Agnello or braised lamb shank, a fall-off-the-bone braised lamb leg with honey emulsion, orange peel, EVOO and French greens.
I was surprised to find such great food in a hole in the wall. La Spezia’s chefs are passionate foodies.
La Spezia is at 90 Scout Lazcano St., Barangay Laging Hand, Quezon City. Call 9606903, 0917-3178992