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Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Restaurant for the Soul

As it is a very hot summer now in the Philippines, most people will take every opportunity to get out of the metropolis grind and head for the many beaches that surround the archipelago, or make that climb to Baguio to take in the cooler breezes with the pine trees.  For those that cannot get a weekend off, they might opt for a day trip to Tagaytay and enjoy the calming view of the Taal Volcano and Lake.

For a douse of Filipino culture, why not stay behind and enjoy the quiet weekend streets of Manila for a change?  Intramuros, for example, is quite charming when it is at its leisure.  One of its engaging places is the Casa Manila where one can appreciate the architecture of a typical household during the Spanish period and take a peek at a lifestyle that is quite familiar to us through the many stories one hears from his or her grandparents.  Another place to consider is the museum of the San Agustin Church just across the street and get lost in its wide corridors and many large rooms while getting to know more about the Dominican order's participation in the country's history.

And if you're hungry after that long walk inside the church, don't speed right out of Intramuros for the nearest cafe or restaurant.  One need only cross the street on the side and open the door to the calm and sincere attendants of Ristorante delle Mitre.  The restaurant is, obviously, named after the bishop's hat.  To know more of the mitre's story, a framed print hangs in the center wall of the place, since either side is devoted to windows where one can look out onto the street on one side, and a view of the small leafy courtyard on the other.   This side leads to the rest of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) compound.  Some of the restaurant staff are deaf or mute so you will have to write down your requests if it happens that they are the ones attending to your table.  But service is done with care, which means that it is not a fast food joint where your food is served in five minutes or less.  The results, however, are evident of the enjoyment they derive from their labors in the kitchen.

The menu is extensive that ranges from the regional specialties of the Philippines like the Bicol Express and Pinangat from Bicol, the Kinilaw of General Santos, or the Pinakbet of the Ilocanos, all named after the Bishops of the Philippines.  Try out their tender and savory Lengua Estofado, and the fresh and crispy Tawilis if you want something familiar and local.  But Delle Mitre serves very competent Italian dishes too.  The Pizza Quattro Formaggi has a crust as crispy and thin as what you can get in the pizzerias of Rome, and the Spaghetti alle Vongole is as delectable as the ristorantes of Venice.  And the prices?  Very affordable at PhP200 or less a dish.  Considering the generous servings, you can host a feast and you won't go dry.  
And for dessert, there is a wide choice as well, one cannot even make up his or her mind what to get to finish the meal.  It would be a good idea to bring in a few of your family members or friends, if not all, so you can have a taste of everything all at once.  They even do wedding cakes too.

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