Lust, Love, and Lardo

It’s not stretching the truth to say that this restaurant could very well survive on these two outstanding dishes.

Whenever people tell me about Spasso, the Italian tapas restaurant located in a rather obscure location, the word lardo is never far behind. Sounding more like a fond nickname for a man of heft, lardo is referred to as Italian bacon fat but that might be too simplistic. A unique cured pork product from Italy, lardo is the creamy white fat taken from just beneath the skin of the pig’s back or fatback, as it’s called (as opposed to bacon which is taken from the pig’s side or belly). This fat is then cured or smoked with coarse salt and herbs, most commonly cloves and rosemary. It’s sliced thinly and is light and creamy, not heavy.

I can’t definitively say that Spasso uses authentic lardo but the restaurant has rightly become famous for the two dishes it stars in. There’s the prawn lardo (P340), the common but classic combination of melon, prawn, and in place of the prosciutto, lardo, but I urge you towards the Wagyu beef tartar lardo(P550). Its grand appearance at table alerts me that something extraordinary is happening here: minced blush-pink beef gently mounded onto a bruschetta, laced with lardo, and draped with micro-greens of arugula. I put down my utensils and use my hands instead.

Bite.

Beefiness– whisper-soft and subtle, roused by the lardo – saltiness exemplified with parsley and capers, and punctuated by a burst of bitter from the arugula. This unholy lavishness of beef and pork fat – my god! Numerous waves of wonder wash over me.

As Manila’s supposedly first and only Italian tapas bar, Spasso excels in her piccolini (small plates) and bruschettas. Many fulfilling little meals can be mixed and made from a selection of them. But on another visit, I want pasta. I’m initially going for the squid ink linguini (P380), I want something different and my date has seen me in far worse than black teeth. But on the server’s recommendation, I choose the tagliatelle with salsa tartufo (P480) instead.

This is a truffle sauce pasta dish but again, that’s putting it too simply. Egg-rich tagliatelle twirls and tangles in a lavish sauce tinctured with truffles and porcini. Each forkful sends up an aroma that’s musky-sweet, tickling nostrils and making my mouth water. Velvet on a plate, seduction on the tongue, the truffle-porcini sauce inspires a litany of lascivious thoughts. When eaten with the ribbons of prosciutto that lie languidly atop … well, let’s just say I only eat this pasta with the one I love.

THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.

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Spasso Italian Tapas and Enoteca
G/F Luxe Residences
4th Avenue corner 28th Street
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
556.0070 / 668.7186
Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards.
www.wix.com/spasso/
Park in the adjacent lot across 7-11 and Bistro Filipino. Otherwise, park at the Fort Strip where Encore and Gourdo’s are located. It’s just a brisk walk across the field from there.

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