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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finding Amore in the South - Daniele's Casa Mia Italian Restaurant

This is that time that I lunched with my mother when I visited her in Las Pinas today, the metro city I grew up in.  We avoided the malls since we tend to find the same dining places whether you're in the north, east or south of Metro Manila.  Thus, for something different, we sought this place out.  I previously noticed this place in one of my drives along Sucat Road in Paranaque (now referred to as Dr. A. Santos Avenue). 

Mind you, it isn't noticeable at first, but the signage just popped out along the busy street.  In fact, a portion of the restaurant along the main thoroughfare is right beside a tombstone store :-D (consider that the area is near two big memorial parks), but one has to go through a narrow passageway to get to the main entrance.  Reaching that, you pass by some outdoor tables, and a potted garden with paintings of famous landmarks of Italy.

Daniele is the son of Roberto Bellini, the proprietor of the well-known trattoria Bellini's in Cubao.  He worked as a photojournalist in his home country until he finally settled in the Philippines and set up his own restaurant serving food he grew up with in Pisa.

Thus, upon entry, we were greeted by friendly staff and shown to an inner room decorated with some of Daniele's photographic works on the wall along with family pictures, more paintings and tile art, and an irrepressible paper mache of the leaning tower of Pisa meeting us as we stepped in.

The menu boasts of a wide array of choices, but we settled with old standbys like the Beef Carpaccio for our appetizer, which had the proper balance of tanginess that set off the freshness and quality of the beef.  This dish certainly whet our appetites for more good things to come.

We split the Creamy Broccoli Soup so we can make sure to have room for more.  Then for our primi piatti (first plates) the mild-mannered Spaghetti Vongole essayed the part perfectly.  I just shook the pepper and grated parmesan bottles a bit more.   They also serve hand-made pastas but this would take more time to prepare, so this is better reserved for a another day - something to make me giddy with anticipation for the next visit.

Then since Daniele's is proud of its pizzas (all 65 flavors of them), we have to have one as well.  For a first-time visitor, we asked for the Quatrizza - four flavors in one 12-inch dough ((their pizzas are also available in 16-inch disks): Napolitana, Maremmana, Capricciosa and Quatro Formaggi, baked in a wood-burning brick oven.  The first bite exposes the freshness of ingredients used for both the dough and the different toppings.  But really, the hallmark of a good pizza, I've come to learn, is in the dough.  Daniele's was chewy and crunchy at the same time.

For our secondo piatto (second plate), my mother and I shared the simply grilled salmon with oven-baked potatoes and assortment of vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers and whole shallots.  Indeed, the simplicity of the preparation brought out the wondrous flavors of the dish.

As we end our meal, one cannot leave without dolci (dessert), and the tiramisu gelato was highly recommended.  Rightly so.  It looked sinfully rich, but tasted pure and light.  There were enough coffee and chocolate going around.
For all that we ate, and served with impeccable timing, this feast only cost us PhP1,360 (around US$32).  This would be one of the perks of dining in places just off the mainstream path.
And luckily, today was exactly the restaurant's third anniversary of operations and so we lucky diners, we lucky few, had a treat of a digestivo to finish our meal elegantly. 
Salute e amore! 
8351 Dr. A. Santos Avenue
Brgy. San Antonio, Paranaque City 1700
+63 2 8265163

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