Chicken Egg Yolk Raviolo at Va Bene
Va Bene prides itself on being: “Manila’s first Italian deli restaurant that uses fresh pastas in all of our dishes, ‘no boxed pastas here!’”; so I suspend my disbelief at the bundles of dried noodles sitting on the shelf. I do think that this is the best place in the city to eat pasta, if only because I’m reminded just how celestial fresh pasta can be, similar to what I have in Italy, where that “on the tooth” texture makes all the difference.
Like any self-respecting Italian restaurant, Va Bene makes its pasta with the finely-ground Italian flour of choice, tipo 00 (doppio zero /double 00). Boxes of it are plastered all over the glass dividing the kitchen from the dining room. Because pastas here are made to order, expect to wait at least 10 minutes for your dish, a wait well worth it.You can’t go wrong with any of the pasta dishes; indeed, it’s practically the only thing served here.
Aside from the Tagliolini with Portobellos in cream sauce (P390), I’m enamored with the Chicken Egg Yolk Raviolo (P750). Ravioloni or raviolo because it’s one large stuffed pasta square, sits regally on a moat of the smoothest mashed potatoes. But I tarry not with it and take a fork to the raviolo; I gasp at the swath of softly-cooked egg yolk that seeps out. I see the stuffing now glazed in gold, minced veal cheeks that inspire the most tender of thoughts when dabbed with the veal jus.
Pastas don’t have to be transporting, but this one is. Add P400 extra for the foie gras option.
Va Bene Pasta Deli
2/F Petron Dasmariñas Village Branch
EDSA cor. Arnaiz Avenue, Dasmariñas Village, Makati
Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30am – 9:30pm
Sweet Potato Pie At Myron’s Place
I imagine that I’m one of the few (in Manila) who can appreciate a good pumpkin pie, and in this case, a sweet potato pie. Potato and pumpkin aren’t really in the pantheon of favored Filipino flavors, after all.
I like the sweets at Myron’s Place because they don’t play safe. In this pie, the root crop is mashed and firm, enhanced with the warmth of spice and brown sugar, oh, how fragrant! It’s the throne on which a plethora of nuts – pecans, almonds, and walnuts are positioned. An earthy portrait this is of orange and chestnut brown, and a scoop of what may be mantecado ice cream. It sits then surrenders onto the pie, a tawny golden sliding into the caramel glow, a color of could it be … yes, desire.
1/F Greenbelt 5, Legaspi St., Legazpi Village, Makati
02 757 8898
Smack Pie + Peanut Butter Brownie at Pi
Pi Breakfast and Pies sounds like the restaurant of my dreams catering to breakfast, my favorite meal of the day; and pie, my favorite type of dessert. But the dream is only half-realized. I’m not keen on the meals here and I won’t waste space decrying describing why. This is after all, a post about restaurant dishes I love.
So I stick to the pies and such because they’re pleasing. The Smack Pie is superlative, the finest local representative of the pie that Momofuku Milk Bar made famous. Whenever I eat this pie, I swoon and smack my lips most appreciatively at the melding of brown sugar, salt, and vanilla.
I also can’t get enough of the Peanut Butter Brownie, mammoth, macho squares of butt-broadening bliss complete with crackly top and requisite fudgy center. And of course you already know that you had me at “peanut butter.”
S’mores Pie, a conglomeration of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow fluff. This pie is so good that I almost forget that I dislike marshmallows.
Pi Breakfast and Pies
39 Malingap St., Teachers Village, Quezon City
Open daily beginning at 7am.
Meatballs on Polenta at Grace Park
In the early years of our marriage, I heroically attempt to make polenta. My Bin mistakes it for “bread”, and shamefaced, I never make it ever again. Fast forward many years later to our meal at Grace Park, one of the farm-to-fork, dare I say ‘locavore’ restaurants that are currently so du jour. The Meatballs come atop noodles or polenta and I inwardly cheer when my Bin chooses the latter.
Infinitely more than just cornmeal mush, polenta is divine when cooked properly. Endlessly creamy, its flavor lengthened with Parmesan, it’s the ideal partner for protein, in this case, the meatballs. Laced with just enough tomato sauce – see how striking the red is – its piquancy plays off the oregano in the meat, a strong spice yes, but used most judiciously. We love and lap it all up.
In the end, my Bin sees that polenta is nothing at all like bread, and I aspire to make my polenta as dreamy as the one at Grace Park.
One Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Makati
0917 513 8945