Italian Restaurants as Good as Tickets and Visas to Italy
by Shen Mascariñas
Italian cuisine is undoubtedly very close to Pinoys’ hearts (and bellies). From pizza stalls to fine dining, there’s practically at least one Italian place in every area. But if you’re after more than just cheesy pizza and pasta, if you’re looking for Italian fare closest to the real deal—you’ve really gotta try these 8 restaurants.
8. Amoroma Ristorante Italiano
3575 Calamba Road, Barangay Tolentino East, National Highway, Tagaytay City of Cavite
09163829883, 09292690370 | Facebook | Website
Open everyday except Tuesday from 11am to 2pm and then 6pm to 10pm
Budget for two – P1000
Tucked away in breezy Tagaytay is a simple, unassuming restaurant slash bed & brakfast. Step inside Amoroma, and you’ll be welcomed into a cozy space that looks like an Italian home. The quality and taste of their dishes will make you feel that even more. Watch the bread and pizza you’re about to eat being cooked right in front of you in their brick oven. That makes ordering pizza a must, along with their Vongole and Tiramisu.
310 Shoe Avenue, Santo Nino, Marikina City | (02) 2345699, (02) 9987865
Facebook | Open everyday from 10am to 10pm
Budget for two – P1200
Bellini’s has been put on the spotlight for its cameo in One More Chance. Who can forget its distinct mural, serving as the background of Popoy and Basha’s famous “three-month-rule” argument? But more than this interesting feat, Bellini is a reliable source for affordable and delicious Italian food. Try their specialties—Gnocci Ragu con Funghi, Penne alla Daniele and Fettucine Tartufo Funghi con Prosciutto.
6. C’ Italian Dining
(02) 2469069 ext:866 | Facebook
Open everyday from 11am to 11pm
Budget for two – P1500
True foodies used to travel all the way to Angeles, Pampanga just to get a taste of Chef Chris Locher’s culinary expertise. Thankfully, C’ Italian Dining finally has a branch in Makati, so their famous panizza is more accessible. While panizza can now be seen in many Italian restaurants, the awesome concept of rolling thin pizza with arugula and alfalfa sprouts started in C’ Italian Dining.
It’s hard to name the best panizza variant, but the Millionario is simply delectable. Imagine a secret cheese sauce, infused with tomato paste and truffle oil, and then topped with shrimps and herbs.
5. Mona Lisa Ristorante
2F The Commerce Center, 1780 Commerce corner Filinvest Avenue, Filinvest City | (02) 5560708
Facebook | Budget for two – P1700
For quite a while, Mona Lisa was one of the best places to celebrate a special occasion in Alabang. Well, it still is, but now its success has branched out to the Fort. No matter the branch, you can expect quality ingredients, generous servings and warm service. Mona Lisa’s Italian owner is known to make the rounds, chat up customers about their experience and (if you’re lucky) even give out free Limoncello shots.
But even if you don’t catch the free liquor, just eating Mona Lisa’s food will make you a winner. Don’t miss out on their Mona Lisa Speciale Panizze, Grilled Salsicia Rigatoni Porcini and Cannoli.
4. Caruso Ristorante Italiano
(02) 8952451, 09175812832 | Facebook
Open everyday from 11:30 am to 2:30pm then 6pm to 11pm
Budget for two – P2500
When an Italian restaurant is always filled with Italian expats, you know the place serves food that brings these customers back home (even for just a while). This is the case for Caruso, an Italian culinary gem in Bel-Air, Makati. That comes as no surprise as Caruso is owned by Italian men—Emilio Mina and Dario Gardini. Try it on your next date night, and pretend you’ve gone to Italy for dinner. Just some must-tries are the Margherita with Bufala Cheese Pizza, Lasagna All Emiliana and Panna Cotta.
3. Balducci Ristorante & Deli
(02) 8560676, (02) 8560865 | Facebook | Website
Open everyday from 11am to 10:30pm
Budget for two – P2000
Balducci is a warm and rustic restaurant that specializes in authentic Tuscan food. They focus on traditional Italian cuisine, which means bringing out the flavors of fresh, local and premium ingredients. Being a deli as well, Balducci offers a wide range of cold cuts and cheeses, perfect for takeout. But as you wine and dine in, try their simple yet well-executed dishes like the Canneloni Della Casa and Tortello d’ Anatra al Porfumo di Tartufo.
The names of the dishes can be quite long (aka intimidating), so don’t be afraid to ask the very knowledgeable waiters.
2. L’Opera Ristorante Italiano
(02) 8893963, (02) 8892784 | Facebook | Website
Open everyday from 11am to 2:30pm then 6pm to 11pm
Budget for two – P3000
L’Opera is from the same culinary geniuses behind Balducci. It’s been the “Golden Q” by Ospitalita Italiana, which means L’Opera meets the international standards for Italian hospitality and quality. How legit can a local Italian restaurant get?! Celebrate your next special occasion here, and find out for yourself.
From the service down to every dish, you’ll feel transported to Italy as you eat in L’Opera. The ultimate must-try is the Taglierini al Profumo di Tartufo in Camicia di Prosciutto (thin egg noodles in truffle sauce wrapped in prosciutto).
1. Va Bene Pasta Deli
3F Cinema Level, Central Square Bldg, Bonifacio High Street, 5th corner 30th, BGC, Taguig City
Makati – (02) 2469069, BGC – (02) 9585018 | Facebook | Website
Budget for two – P1200
Va Bene puts the spotlight on glorious, authentic Italian pasta. The place is casual and simple, but the food—oh my gosh, the food—is the exact opposite. Their pasta is fresh, handmade and cooked perfectly-al dente. The sauces coating that are always packed with so much flavor and made from generous, premium ingredients. You’ll see (or taste) what we mean when you try the Organic Eggs Tagliatelle and the Black Ink Taglioni. The Polipo salad is also amazing.
All in all, Va Bene should be on the top of every pasta-lover’s bucket list.
Any other authentic Italian restaurants that are as good as tickets and visas to Italy? Sound off below!