Last night, I was invited to try C’Italian Dining in Salcedo Village, Makati. It is just across one of the corners of the Salcedo Saturday Market, just a little further down from that new strip of restaurants along L.P. Leviste St. in Makati.
It is located at the corner of the L’Ermitage Apartments. This is one of those buildings that I love looking at (from the outside) because those big stone blocks on the ground floor just look so badass compared to regular modern buildings. Sorry, I am no architect, so I can’t describe it more than that.
Anyway, the name C’Italian sounds expensive, doesn’t it? But don’t be intimidated by the classy ambience or the upscale location. C’Italian is actually encouraging regular people (like barat ol’ me) to try out their restaurant by offering smaller portions at prices within reach.
ABOUT C’ITALIAN DINING
C’Italian Dining is the same restaurant in Pampanga that you may have heard about, the one that people from Manila drive up to just to try. The original restaurant in Pampanga is currently undergoing renovations, and this one in Makati is headed by sons Ed and Charles Pineda, so it’s still all in the family. This branch in Salcedo Village just opened last year (March 2014).
I love the rich interiors of C’Italian Dining. It looks like a museum with all the displayed art, but it does not feel stiff. They have a wall of plates showcasing signatures and notes from famous diners. The displayed artwork are available for sale, just inquire if you are interested.
The item that C’Italian is famous for, is the panizza. They invented the panizza. They told me they have the word “panizza” trademarked. The panizza was invented when the owner came back from Italy craving for some good, Italian food, and after some trial and error, preferred a thinner pizza that was a bit crispy on the edges. But it still lacked something. So he kept experimenting and eventually came up with the panizza as we know it! There is more to the story, but I won’t go into it.
HOW TO EAT A PANIZZA
What is a panizza? It’s a very thin pizza, sliced into long, 2-inch-wide strips. You place some arugula and alfalfa sprouts on it and then roll it up! I like sprinkling some red pepper flakes on it, too, before rolling. If you like more heat, you can add some of their chili oil instead. They make their pepper flakes and chili oil in house, and they are hot!
Eating a panizza is fun! It’s best to eat with family or a group of friends. It’s fun because instead of someone just plopping a plate in front of you, with a panizza, you can sort of play with your food; you have some interaction with your food before eating it.
I started out with just one arugula leaf and a smattering of alfalfa sprouts, but after a few panizzas, I found that I really liked them and my later rolls of panizza had as many as I could fit in! The arugula gives a mild, nutty flavor (not bitter) and the alfalfa sprouts are like a super, super mild version of mung bean sprouts. It just provides a hint of very light, grassy flavor.
Develop your panizza rolling style – you could put all the arugula and alfalfa in the middle and roll, or you can spread the arugula and alfalfa over the entire length of the panizza before rolling.
We were given some bread and and an olive oil, pesto and parmesan cheese dip.
As for the drinks, we tried the Italian soda (P100/glass). It’s not as sweet, and it’s cleaner tasting than the sodas we are used to. I ordered the Kiwi flavor.
The Angelico (P300 for solo, P560 for La Famiglia) is chorizo, salami, bacon and mushroom. I really liked this one! (All panizza pictured are of the La Famiglia size)
The Rolls Royce (P360 for solo, P690 for La Famiglia) is salami, scallop flakes, shrimp & sun-dried tomatoes.
The Margarita con Funghi (P240 for solo, P450 for La Famiglia) is fresh & sun-dried tomatoes, mushroom and basil. This is the one to order if you are looking for a vegetarian option.
The Karmichael (P320 for solo, P590 for La Famiglia) is onions, black olives, peppers and Italian sausage.
Each Panizza order comes with a bowl of Arugula and Alfalfa Sprouts (P85 per bowl if you want to order more).
I really recommend dining with at least one other person to enjoy the solo panizzas. Sure, you can order a solo all for yourself, but it’s very filling, and it’s a big serving. And you don’t want to eat just one dish for your meal, right?
For pasta, we got to try the Linguini Al Frutti de Mare (P310 for solo, P590 for La Famiglia), the Linguini Al Tartufo E Prosciutto (P390 for solo, P740 for La Famiglia), the Pasta ala Rey (P210 for solo, P380 for La Famiglia).
The Linguini Al Frutti de Mare is good and tastes like seafood without being “fishy”. It is a seafood marinara type pasta dish. However, my favorite has to be the Linguini Al Tartufo E Prosciutto. I could smell the truffle from 6 feet away! However, for those who are not into truffle, the truffle flavor is mild in the pasta’s cream sauce. But since I love truffle, I prefer a stronger truffle flavor.
The Pasta ala Rey is a light, oil-based pasta with black olives, capers and tomatoes. It’s good if you just want something very light and with no meat.
For the meats, we tried the Tuscan Roasted Chicken (Half P470, Whole P890). The chicken was placed on top of a rice pilaf. I found the dark meat to be very flavorful.
The US Prime Angus Flank Steak (P500g P1,790, 1 kilo P3,490) was very good, flavor-wise. Lots of rosemary (dried), one of my favorite herbs. It’s one kilo of meat that has been grilled and then sliced. I suggest having it cooked medium to medium rare, but they will ask for your preference. There’s something for everybody. Those who like their steak a bit more done will probably want to get the end portions, while those who like their steak rarer will probably prefer the middle parts. I really like the sauce. I’d dip my clean steak slice onto the pooling sauce on the platter to soak up the steak juices!
The steak is placed on top of some roasted squash and potatoes smeared with roasted garlic.
For dessert, we had the Lemon Cheesecake (P230), Tiramisu (P210) and Creme Brulee (P125). The Creme Brulee is creamy and smooth, while the Lemon Cheesecake is heavy with cheese (yes, this is good!). For the Tiramisu, I prefer it to be a bit more “wet” though.
This is a good place to go to if you want to impress someone with the beautiful interiors. However, to fully enjoy the food, it’s much better to have several people in your group so you can try more dishes and have fun rolling the panizzas. But if there are only two of you (on a romantic date, for example), don’t fret, because they have solo portions, too, so you can order several dishes without spending too much.
The prices are a bit on the steep side, but within reason considering the location and ambiance. It’s also one of those places you have to try to experience the original panizza. Depending on what you order, you could probably get away with only spending P500-800 per person (sticking to panizzas and pasta).
There is no parking available from the restaurant itself, but there are several paid parking lots and parking spaces nearby. Wifi is available.
L’Ermitage Building, Leviste cor. Toledo St, Salcedo Village, Makati
Contact #: 478-1521 or 0916-6282949
HOURS: 11 AM – 12 MN
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The Barat Queen
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