Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

bellini’s – a welcome warm spot in the heart of cubao

In eating in manila on June 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm

it was a flurry of italian food for us that ended last saturday night at bellini’s located at cubao x, the former marikina shoe expo. bellini’s has been around for 12 years and has a loyal following although this was only the second time i’ve been there. camille suggested it for a dinner date after coming from the andrew lloyd webber show, and it was the perfect place to go.

the place itself has enough to keep the diner interested even without the food

we heard somewhere that the proprietor was a former member of the italian paparazzi and so the walls are lined with gossip magazine covers and articles. in italian, true, but the language of gossip is universal and it was easy to tell what the headlines were about.

it also doesn’t hurt to have cute bread sticks

the only other time i was in bellini’s, i remember their antipasti selection was pretty good and so we ordered the small sampler (around P250)

on the plate: bell pepper in olive oil, mushrooms and garlic, a little eggplant with olive oil and vinegar, and some salted fish. it was all very tasty – albeit somewhat crowded. our wine was a pinot nero from friuli in northern italy and was perfect for the antipasti.

of course we had a pasta dish. a simple spaghetti bolognese (around P250)

a bolognese is a tricky thing. being the ye old spaghetti with meat sauce, pretty much everybody who cooks has a recipe tucked in their arsenal. so it’s a bit hard to be impressed by a bolognese. bellini’s isn’t particularly spectacular, but it is quite good. full of flavor with perfect texture.

the other dish we had was an osso buco (around P350)




this we enjoyed a lot. it had all the rich flavor and tenderness of meat that has been simmering for a loooong time. it was a bit unfortunate that were too full to finish the whole serving, but it’s something to keep in mind as we can always go back to have it again.

no dessert this time as we were already stuffed. but now we’re contemplating the full italian meal (from aperitif, to the 4 food courses, to the coffee and digestive) and bellini’s is as good a place as any to do this.

costa nostra, bidding farewell to a malate institution

In eating in manila on June 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm

camille and i are thrilled that we are classmates with bambi harper. she is one of the classiest and wittiest ladies ever and we aspire to be like her someday. right now though, we have to content ourselves with being able to hang out with her and a couple of weeks ago we did just that – a 3 hour lunch at her malate restaurant, cosa nostra.

cosa nostra is a small place, a very elegant and charming hole-in-the-wall italian restaurant

while waiting for our food, we ate up the cheese dip that was already on the table. not on the menu, but a blend of cheeses that our gracious hostess brought over

the wine was homenaje rosado from navarra, one of our favorites that we brought over for the occasion.

for lunch proper, we started with a cosa nostra favorite, pesto pizza

what makes this pizza yummy is that slab of mozarella cheese in the middle of each slice. fantastic.

we had 2 pastas, first was penne with roasted vegetables

the picture says it all. this dish was loaded with veggie goodness, nothing scrimped. and very very flavorful.

the other pasta dish we had was spaghetti with taba ng talangka

if you must die from a cholesterol overload, this is the way to do it. this dish isn’t unique to cosa nostra, but they do it best. oozing with crab fat, with crab sticks thrown in for good measure.

cosa nostra will close in 2 days, after 30 years of serving wonderful food. i myself only started going there this year so most of the restaurant’s legacy is not something i am privy to. but i will still miss it, and now feel some regret about not having gone sooner.

on behalf of all the people who were well-fed by cosa nostra i want to say, bambi, kuya lito, ate tess, maraming salamat.


a celebration at galileo enoteca, mandaluyong

In eating in manila on June 27, 2011 at 11:39 am

it was the anniversary of the day we met and a special dinner was in order. and some good wine. location was also a factor, we wanted something not far from the ortigas area. we settled on galileo, a place camille and i love but haven’t been to in a while.

one thing i’ve always loved about galileo is its cellar-y feel

the perfect ambience to try some oldish-world food starting with some crusty bread and cheeses

we’re not sure if it’s because we said we were celebrating or because they’re just really nice, but they gave us soup and plate of prosciutto on the house before the pasta arrived

there were actually like 6 slices of the ham, but we were so excited to eat we forgot to photograph while the plate was actually full. in any case, this was a very welcome surprise. the ham wasn’t full melt-in-your-mouth quality, but it was still quite good.

we had pasta for our main dish. camille had seafood in olive oil

and i had stewed tomatoes with parma ham

we really appreciate restaurants that understand the simplicity needed in pasta. don’t put too much stuff. one of the main reasons is that in italy, pasta is really a prelude to the protein so it shouldn’t stand alone. and while in this case we did have it as the main, given all the other food consumed prior, minimalist is still best.

all this we washed down with a pinot from lombardy, in northern italy

not a mind-blowing wine, but enough to hold its own with the meal. it had a bright fruitiness that went well with the oil of the seafood and the ham.

for dessert, a panna cotta

this was actually nowhere near as good as the one we had in angelina’s (see a couple of posts back), but wasn’t bad either and did nothing to ruin the mood of the night.

last of all was a complimentary shot of limoncello that made us really really mellow and everything around us seem magical. wonderful stuff.

galileo still has it.


ilustrado: an old-world date

In eating in manila on June 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

thanks (yet again) to deal grocer, we got 50% off a 4-course dinner from ilustrado in intramuros. intramuros is one of those places you should visit now and again if only to bask in the old-world feel of the place and imagine this manila when it was a stunning spanish fortress.

ilustrado is a restaurant that stays true to this spirit, starting with its interiors

the menu that was served was supposed to be the same or at least similar to what was served the king and queen of spain during their visit. for starters, lobster bisque

a perfect way to start the meal. intense, concentrated lobster flavors. a punch on the palate. the small cup is exactly the right size – you don’t need more with such bold flavors.

then came the paella

this was a good, solid paella. nothing great but the basics were all right and it was generous with the ingredients. the next dish was another spanish classic, callos

this was also good but not sensational. it had all the right flavors, but could have used a bit more intensity that could’ve come from more cooking time. but all in all, pretty good.

but it was the dessert that blew us away. it was, on the surface, a simple mango jubilee.

the ice cream was a perfect vanilla, but the real charm came from an undertone of flowers. mixed with the sweet tartness of the mango and the thick syrup, it was a very memorable dessert.

because of the deal, the meal cost P1,250 for two people. that was a small price to pay for what was overall – including the romance of intramuros – a great experience.