When in Manila and you’re having a craving for authentic Italian cuisine that’s more than just your usual pizza, spaghetti and lasagna, then I highly recommend that you try out Casa Nostra at Eco Plaza. Since I haven’t been in Pasong Tamo Extension for a few years, I was a little surprised to find a modern commercial complex there. Eco Plaza is just a little way off The Sterling Place, trust me you won’t miss it. Casa Nostra is right at the ground floor of the commercial building, the restaurant’s facade itself is a nice contrast from amongst its modern-styled neighbors. The restaurant’s signage boasts of the colors from Italy and the canopy with outdoor-styled lighting fixtures sets the mood well for Italian dining.
I’m lucky enough to be treated to a scrumptious dinner while being entertained by the gracious and delightful Joey Velardi, the owner of the restaurant. From a brief chat with him, I learned that he’s been in the restaurant business for quite sometime. It’s re-assuring to know that he really knows what makes for a great dining experience for customers who are expecting no less than the best authentic Italian cuisine in this little corner of Makati.
Stepping inside Casa Nostra is like being transported into Italy. The restaurant is dimly lit but just enough to provide good and cozy ambient lighting. I loved the combinations of brick, dark-slate floors and dark wood furniture which gave the restaurant an Old World feel. The table layout inside the restaurant is spaced evenly enough to provide ease of movement without making the interiors feel crowded. There’s just enough clearance per table to give large groups privacy from within their dining table without disturbing other diners. I really must commend the good acoustics in the restaurant too.
Now onto the glorious food. I’ve always hated that sometimes appetizers get me so full that it spoils my appetite for main dish. However, the appetizers that we were served really just made me look forward to next dishes coming out of the kitchen.
Selvaticci di Spinaci (Php 265)
Wild mushrooms sautéed in herbs and olive oil, served with spinach salad and Parmigiano
Carpaccio di Manzo (Php 365)
Thinly-sliced raw beef tenderloin topped with capers, Parmigiano cheese, anchovies and a lemon Balsamic dressing
At first I was a bit apprehensive about eating raw meat but I recommend that you give Carpaccio di Manzo a try. I admit it’s something different but there is such an exquisite blend of flavors that keeps you just wanting to eat more.
Creamy Italian Pumpkin Soup
Tortellini in Brodo (Php 120 cup) (Php 170 bowl)
Small cheese-stuffed pasta in a light chicken broth
Crispy golden fried squid rings served with a creamy Italian dipping sauce
Whew, and those were just the appetizers and soups. The main dishes were just coming out but already our taste buds were already singing happily from the merry assortment of dishes that we were filling our tummies with.
Spaghetti with Sicilian meatballs of ground pork, beef, fine herbs and cheese
This dish changed the way I look at spaghetti. In the picture you’ll see the meatball all cut up to show to mix of meat and the other ingredients. Casa Nostra sure do know how to serve up classic spaghetti.
Risotto ala Finanziera (Php 325)
Italian arborio rice cooked with chicken, mushrooms and Mascarpone cheese
I tried desperately not to hog this one for myself. I’m a real risotto addict and this one just tasted sooo good!
Home-made hat-shaped stuffed pasta in a rich sauce of butter, Parmigiano cheese, heavy cream and fresh ground black pepper
Braised beef shank slowly cooked in red wine, beef stock, onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots and celery – and served on a bed of creamy Italian arborio risotto
The highlight of the meal was this dish. Casa Nostra prides itself with it’s heaping serving of Ossobuco which unbelievably enough is enjoyed as a single-serving dish by some of the restaurant’s patrons. As soon as you poke your spoon into the meat, it just falls apart as a result of it being cooked for at least 3 hours. It looks daunting visually but as soon as you take your first bite, it just melts into your mouth.
The dessert part of the meal was also a delight to the eyes and for our taste buds as well. If you plan on dining at Casa Nostra, make sure you have room for dessert as you inevitably will. Feast your eyes on these.
Italian for cooked cream, a light-silky eggless custard served chilled with a berry sauce
The first two don’t usually appear on the menu but you can ask for them. The first has a bit of Kahlua mixed in it and the crème brulee is deliciously smooth.
Casa Nostra is a great authentic Italian restaurant that I wouldn’t mind going back to. There is still a roster of Italian dishes that I am willing to try. I loved the fact that the menu shows the dishes in their Italian names, you can have fun trying your hand at speaking Italian here. This adds a lot to the authenticity of the place. When in Manila and your friends want to get a taste of Italy right here in the Philippines, Casa Nostra is the place to be.
G/F Ecoplaza Building
2305 Pasong Tamo Ext.
Makati, Metro Manila
Tel. (63 2) 403-9854 to 55
Mobile (0917) 593-7521
CASA NOSTRA WEBSITE
Authentic Italian Cuisine at Casa Nostra