Probably Italian cuisine is something that most of us have experienced one way or another. We are all familiar with the usual Italian course of pastas and pizzas, but have you ever wondered whether it was truly Italian? Pasta is of course, already standard with fast food joints, and we even have purely dedicated pizza places, but they serve it in the well-known American Style, or suited to fit the Filipino palette such as the Italian-scorned Filipino “Sweet Spaghetti with Hot Dogs.”
So after hearing of a real authentic Italian Restaurant we knew we just had to give it a try! Its called Bellini’s the place is hard to spot as its across Rustan’s supermarket in Quezon City, and inside the Marikina Shoe Expo. We were served by an excellent waiter, Rolando S. Salazar, who did not only served us but also entertained our questions, knew all the technical Italian food terms, strove to give us what we wanted and was very cheerful in this dining experience. When you go there, make sure you ask for him!
Grissini (Italian Breadsticks)
Fiel: This is very pretty grissini because it has the cute “twirl” at the end of it. It does a perfect job of being that crunchy, well-baked tasting, I-want-more-after-each-stick-I-eat appetizer. A give it a 7.5/10.
Ren: Simple, it didn’t have any superstitious flavor or kick into it. But it does a good job being an in-between and before the course making it a very good appetizer. A 8.75/10 is a good merit for it.
Anchovy and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta in Chili Olive Oil
This is so Rarely Ordered – it is not even part of the regular menu! Many thanks to waiter Rolando S. Salazar for recommending this. According to him, this is an authentic Italian dish.
Fiel: One thing – I hope that once people read this and decide to eat at Bellini’s, they would unhesitatingly order this one! It was so good in the sense that just eating the pasta brings out every main ingredient’s flavor in harmony. The anchovies, sun dried tomatoes, chili olive oil and the Parmesan cheese we eventually topped on to it were all significant to its taste. At this point, this has been the best tasting Italian food I have ever tasted. It is a 9.5/10 for me!
Ren: Its definitely not the usual pasta that I have come across. Usually you’ll find it smothered with heavy sauce or overloaded with toppings. With looks alone you can see that the sauce is just very light and translucent, with only a few toppings of sardines and sun dried tomatoes look deceiving. But after just tasting it you can feel the distinct flavors in your mouth. A little bit on the spicy side but not enough to burn you out. I give it a 9/10!
Parma Ham and Arugula Pizza con Fungi
Fiel: For those who do not know what arugula is, it is a leaf vegetable that has a herby-bitter taste usually eaten raw as part of a salad. Let me make it clear: I HATE arugula! I do not eat nor order it. No. No. Never. I was a bit worried then about this one – until I tasted it! Oh my, the saltiness of the super thin and juicy Parma ham clashed with the shredded arugula creating a unique, yet simple taste. The crust was stone-baked to perfection as it had a softness to it that felt like bread but with the flavorful quality of a true thin crust pizza. When I put chili oil and Parmesan cheese, it was absolute heaven for me. I found out today that I like authentic Italian food! For meeting beyond my expectations and making me like a dish with an ingredient I hate, this qualifies as my first 10/10!
Ren: The pizza is just kept simple overall. Simple thin crust, simply put toppings, of ham mushroom, cheese and arugula. But as soon as you take a bite into you can taste how simple the pizza tasted. You can distinctly taste each ingredient as the flavors don’t mix mash brashly and leave you wanting for more. The key word for this dish? Simplicity. For keeping it solid I’ll give it a 9/10!
Sweet House Wine
Fiel: Its sooooo smooth! For those who like drinking flavorful wines and spirits this is truly for you. Most sweet wines that are already commercialized tastes like spiked grape soda juive (don’t get me wrong, I find nothing wrong with that). If you like sweet wine and you like flavorful wines, then you have to try the only Italian house-made wine I know of. This merits an 8.5/10.
Ren: Here we find a rare occasion of a restaurant with an in-house wine. I’m no connoisseur of wine but this wine I find very excellent. Unlike most alcoholic beverages it doesn’t hit you with a hard hitting flavor but it slides smoothly in your mouth a good way to get things going! 8.75/10 for this drink!
Pharaoh’s Delight (Fig Gelato topped with Pistachio)
Fiel: This dessert can be described in one word for me: interesting. Shaped like a pyramid, is tastes like vanila ice cream with pistachio at first but when it melts, it tastes like honey! I really do not know how figs taste but this is really entertaining. I give it an 8/10.
Ren: Ice cream for dessert is not new to the most of us but this Gelato Ice cream is. Other than the creamy flavor of the dish what struck me most was the sweet crystal after taste that kicks in after the ice cream melts in your mouth. For that surprise the score would be 8/10!
When we went: Friday, lunchtime on July 4, 2008.
Where it is: Bellini’s – If you can go to Cubao (Ali Mall, SM Shoemart, Gateway, etc.) you can get here. A bit secluded but fairly easy to find, it is in the Marikina Shoe Expo across Rustan’s. Ask directions from Ali Mall or from Rustan’s and you should be able to find it.
Budget Range: Not very expensive. About P250-P400 per person depending on how much and what you want to order. If you want to order everything from appetizer down to dessert, expect to dish out more than P550.