WHEN IN MANILA, specifically in the new Bonifacio High Street Central, go and visit ARIA CUCINA ITALIANA.
Boracay’s most celebrated Italian Restaurant finally opened its doors in Manila last January 2012.
It is conveniently located at the new wing of Bonifacio High Streets, right across R.O.X. so parking wouldn’t be a problem at all.
The interior is really nice – with 3 huge art works, well-lit room and comfy chairs.
I especially liked the detailed peek-a-boo divider.
It added some “class” to the ambiance.
Aria is best for groups or family get-togethers than date-nights because it can get pretty noisy when the house is full (we tend to raise our voices to actually hear one another :p )
But, if you are coming here for a date, there is a spot that would be best for you.
Reserve the round table at the corner – that’s the most private I think :)
We went here to sample their delicious seafood dishes, mouthwatering homemade pastas, fresh green salads, and their famous woodfire oven-baked pizzas.
Please note that the pictures shown below are SAMPLER PORTIONS only.
The price indicated are for the FULL SERVING size.
ROTOLINO MARCHIGIANO (Php 390)
wood fire oven baked pizza roll stuffed with tomato sauce, mushroom, mozzarella and ham
This was a very filling appetizer. The crust was thin but it was still doughy in texture, which was perfect with the ham and cheese.
Although, I think it would be better if they add a little more tomato sauce in the roll.
TIP: Sprinkle your pizza roll with black pepper or dip it in chili oil
GRAN MISTO ARIA (Php 435)
A vegetarian mix of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, grilled bell pepper salad, eggplant mash and deep fried zucchini, served with focaccia bread
I loved how the vinaigrette dressing complimented the fried zucchinis;
And, the sweet bell peppers, together with the hummus-like mashed eggplants, created a flavorful mix salad when eaten together.
INSALATA DI COCOMERO, RUCOLA E PINOLI (Php 480)
organic arugula with fresh watermelon, feta cheese and pine nuts in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing
I ♥ arugula so this one’s a winner for me!
The fresh watermelon and pine nuts totally rocked this dish!
INSALATA TARTUFATA CON PARMA HAM (Php 480)
a salad of grilled eggplant, lettuce, tomatoes, parma ham and smoked scamorza cheese tossed in a truffle dressing
I noticed that they really use the freshest ingredients only.
The ripe tomatoes were very sweet and I almost didn’t recognize the eggplant slices because I thought they were mushrooms. Yum!
This would have been really really good if only I could taste and smell the truffle oil.
SPAGHETTI MARINARA (Php 450)
a favorite seafood pasta of the Mediterranean coast.
You have the option to choose if you want your marinara sauce to be olive oil or tomato based.
We had the tomato base and it was gooooooood!
The sauce was rich, smooth and ripely sweet!
Not just that, but the seafood mix (fish, squid, mussel, clams) was super fresh, too!
I must admit, I’ve never had spaghetti noodles this perfect before!
This one is the realization of the word: AL DENTE!
RISOTTO CON PARCINI, MANTECATO AL MASCARPONE (Php 620)
risotto with parcini mushrooms whipped with mascarpone and aged parmesan cheese
I got really curious when this dish came out because I could smell the cheese from afar.
I quickly took a photo and grabbed a spoon.
I wonder how they do it, but Aria seems to cook their food to perfection.
The rice was firm and not mushy.
Even if I am not a fan of risottos, I still ended up with a clean plate.
Anyway, this dish is kind of simple. It tasted like rice with cream of mushroom sauce.
Our food trip seemed endless.
We were quite full already by the time the best-selling Aria pizzas arrived.
But of course, who could resist those woodfire oven-baked pizzas?!
HAWAIIANA (Php 520)
tomato sauce, pineapple, ham and mozzarella
The pineapple flavor crept through the whole pizza topping.
There was a hint of pineapple taste in every bite.
CAPRICCIOSA (Php 580)
fresh cherry tomatoes, artichokes, farmers ham, mushroom, kalamata olives and mozzarella
The full artichokes made this pizza a winner!
I’ve always liked olives in pastas, pizzas or just anywhere.
But one mustn’t get too excited in biting into this pizza with the olives because they are not pitted yet :)
RUCOLA E PINOLI (Php 590)
cream sauce, mozzarella, fresh arugula and pine nuts
This one’s my favorite ♥♥♥
The pine nuts and arugula were M.F.E.O. (made for each other)
By the way, Did you know that Aria’s pizza crust mix has a secret ingredient?
SALMONE AL PEPE VERDE (Php 650)
fresh salmon fillet served with a creamy green pepper sauce
I know, the description said “green” pepper sauce.
I asked Juan Elizalde, the owner, the same question; “how come the sauce is orange?”
He told me that the green peppers were already cut into tiny bits and mixed in the sauce.
The salmon dish was very tasty but I don’t know why the sauce reminded me of sardines.
Probably because of the sauteed onions in the red-orange sauce.
Last, but not the least…
MOUSSE AI DUE CIOCCOLATI (Php 190)
layers of white and dark chocolate mousse pastry topped with ground hazelnuts
I have never had a chocolate mousse as good as this… EVER!
CHEF MARINO LEONARDIS (Aria’s Executive Chef)
Thank you, CHEF MARINO, for creating the BEST CHOCOLATE MOUSSE in existence!
Thank you, JUAN and PAOLO for bringing Aria to Manila!
MR. JUAN ELIZALDE and wife, MRS. BIANCA ARANETA-ELIZALDE (owners, Aria)
PAOLO OCCHIONERO (part-owner, Aria)
Let me share some facts about the people behind ARIA CUCINA ITALIANA:
“A partnership built on trust, friendship and professionalism”
Juan has been going to the island of Boracay since he was 8 years old, first stepping on its pristine white sand the year 1978, back when there was absolutely nothing else there but the sea, the shore and a tiny fishing village.
“We used to sit on the beach at night and build bonfires. There was no electricity that time—if you can imagine it, Boracay was still untouched by modernization. It was just us and the townsfolk with the wind, the waves and the sand. I remember just sitting out there and someone, a local, would pick up a guitar and just strum it. Those are my fondest memories of Boracay” says Juan.
In the 80s, his father ventured into the resort business by putting up the (now defunct) Palm Beach Resort. By 1988, Juan started learning the ropes by helping his father. Around 1998, their family opened “D’Mall” which was a huge success and expanded by 2003, the year Juan found available space and decided to enter the food industry by opening his first restaurant, Aria Cucina Italiana.
Paolo, an Italian, first visited the Philippines in 1982.
“I was taking a break from my studies and accompanied my friend to a travel agency. He was booking himself a flight to Lima. All of a sudden I saw this place called the Philippines and I asked the travel agent ‘where is that place?’ to which she replied ‘The Far East’. Immediately I said ‘Book me there; I want to go as Far East as I can go’ says Paolo.
Paolo was only supposed to stay in the Philippines for 2 months during his first trip, but instead, he ended up staying for 6 months.
In 1983 Paolo heard about the “paradise” island and first landed on the shores of Boracay. In 1985, he met Juan Elizalde and the two soon became good friends. By 1986, he built a “vacation” home on the island he had fallen in love with. In 1991 he built one of Boracay’s most famous and long running restaurants, True Food. In 1992 he ventured into the resort industry and started a boutique beach front resort called True Home.
In 2003, he partnered with Juan Elizalde for Aria Cucina Italia.
Paolo also owns a restaurant in Asti, Italy called Barolo and Co, an establishment that has been open since 1987.
From Boracay to Manila
After almost a decade, Boracay’s most famous Italian restaurant opened its doors in Manila, specifically the new Bonifacio High Street Central.
Restaurateurs Juan Elizalde and Paolo Occhionero have kept the original menu in Boracay untouched except for adding a couple of “must-try’s” created by their Aria Cucina Italia-Manila Chef, Marino Leonardis, who hails from Leguria, Italy. Some of these new dishes include a Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli, 3 cheese Gnocchi, Risottos (Di Mare, Saffron, Porcini and Mascarpone). New desserts will also be offered like a chocolate mousse and the Zuppa Inglese.
“I always make sure to use only the best ingredients, always fresh. Plus I make everything by hand, from scratch. Even the pesto is made the original way, with a mortar and pestle. Pesto originated from my region in Italy.” Says Chef Marino.
WHEN IN MANILA, have an awesome Italian experience at ARIA CUCINA ITALIANA.
East Superblock, 30th St. corner 7th St.,
Bonifacio High Street Central,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
For Reservations, you may call the following numbers:
WhenInManila Photos by JoTan23.
Italian Restaurants in Bonifacio Global City: Boracay’s ARIA Restaurant is now in Manila