Eats galore

Dec 03, 2016

It's the first week of December, and you know what this means for foodies, or weight watchers who secretly want to indulge. It's the time to count the calories before the last two weeks of the season descends on us, or face the consequences. Before we know it, those endless Christmas parties tick off, be they corporate events or family ones-there doesn't seem to be any lull. But before you plunge head long into the strict diet mode, let me tempt you with some of our newest discoveries in the local food scene.

In the South, more specifically Molito Mall in Filinvest, Alabang, there is a new Italian restaurant that just opened-Parmigiano Ristorante& Pizzeria. In Italy, they regard parmigiano or parmesan cheese as the king of all cheeses, hence the name. It is owned by an Italian family, so there is no room to doubt the authenticity of their dishes. Giulius Iagano, son of the owners, runs the place. He just graduated from San Sebastian College but his Dad has entrusted him with running the business, specifically this branch. In less than a year, the family has opened three restaurants including the one in Resorts World and Tony & Sergio in McKinley, Resorts World.

Try these wonderful dishes:

Tiella di Pesce - paella Italian-style, served in a pan with assorted seafood and veggies. Price: P600, but it's good for two to three persons.

Salmone all Grilla - pan-seared salmon fillet with cream sauce, tiger prawns, and mashed potatoes, all for P600.

T-bone steak, one of their best sellers at P380/100 grams, served with mashed potatoes.

For lamb lovers, they have their Estofato de Annillo or lamb stew - P750.00

Ravioli Funghi Porcini - If you followed the saga of the Soprano family, a long-running series on the Italian mafia, you would recognize this all-time favourite of Tony Soprano, the patriarch. All Italians love pasta, and this one has fresh wild mushrooms in a creamy sauce.

They have a wide range of pastas and pizzas and salads to choose from, too many to remember. It is a family restaurant where virtually everything on the menu is for sharing. There is one huge platter that has everything: ribs, chicken, sausages and rib-eye, a virtual feast for the family, though it costs a hefty P1,900.


From the looks of it, Italian cuisine has conquered the Filipino palate, judging from the number of Italian restaurants that have opened. Another one to discover is Cucina in Marco Polo Ortigas. If you check out their buffet offerings, one can easily get overwhelmed by the trays of fresh sashimi and assorted sushis, the lobsters, prawns and crabs on ice, the risotto, pastas and pizzas ready for the plucking.

B&L talked with Chef Guiseppi Rivoli, born in Sicily who literally went around the world cooking up a storm, but once he landed in Asia, he ended his wanderlust and decided to rest his feet in the Philippines.

His signature dish in the Cucina restaurant is his Osso Bucco, but he is particularly proud of his tender and flavourful Bistek, another best seller. He also cooked a creamy risotto on the spot in about 5 minutes. This happens to be part of the buffet offerings, so one can request for a steaming plate of risotto at the buffet.

The carving station offers angus roast beef, but what many Pinoys may also find irresistible is their Italian version of our lechon-their pork porchetta. It is stuffed pork belly served crisp and crunchy.

Check out their Christmas menu and Christmas baskets. There is a midnight Christmas buffet after mass that Chef Guiseppi promises to be nothing short of fabulous.


Private dining seems to have caught on with families or just groups of friends who want a place all for themselves. It offers intimacy, peace and serenity which one can't get from other restaurants. The owner of Pio's Kitchen, Chef Chin Gallegos-Bagis is a young mother from a family of twelve in Pampanga whose specialty is Spanish comfort food. She finished Hotel and Restaurant Management first, then went on to have formal training at the Institute of Culinary Arts. She also took up culinary courses in Barcelona, Vietnam and Thailand, that's how passionate she is about cooking.

The restaurant is on the lower level of their residence which is ideal for this young mother. Pio's Kitchen, named after her favourite saint Padre Pio, is only open for reservations, meaning one cannot just walk in and order lunch or dinner. Starting off with a catering business which is time-consuming, she later went on to accepting gourmet catering for small groups and getting commissioned as chef for special private dinners at home before she opened Pio's Kitchen. It was a leap of faith for her and her husband but her limited menu for private dinners has clicked with clients who dislike noisy and crowded restaurants. They can accommodate a minimum of eight and a maximum of fifty here, so events like simple birthdays or intimate debuts and weddings can be had here.

Chin 's specialty is really her paellas, but her roasts, salpicao, bagnet, her fresh salads and other Spanish comfort food have clicked well with her clients. Where before, Chin had to wait patiently by the telephone for her next reservation, she confidently says with a smile that those days are gone. In fact, they have been fully booked for the holiday season and for the rest of2016. She and her husband took a big leap of faith when they both left their corporate jobs to concentrate on Pio's Kitchen, and look where they are now. The family business also leaves them time to enjoy their young family, apart from sparing them the hassles of traffic to get to work or their place of business. If you ask me, that's having the best of both worlds. Check out their website:

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

For comments and inquiries (email)


About the Author

Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network's AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart's middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN's DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70's, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports' living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN's Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable's Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport's hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry's latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star's business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)