It was a sunny day in Makati when we headed out with empty stomachs eager for a hearty meal. Tucked away in Kamagong Street in San Antonio Village is Cucina Rusticana, an italian restaurant that promises to serve Italian cuisine at its best.
Once inside, we were greeted with sunny walls and striking artwork that should welcome even the lone diner seeking good Italian food. The restaurant also offers a selection of Italian wines that should prove interesting since we are dominated with a lot of French alcohol. Perhaps we were asking for it, but the day ended with more than full stomachs and good impressions.
Cucina Rusticana when translated, means Rustic Kitchen, as Corporate Chef and owner John Joseph Viel tells us. JJ mentions that they're into serving more than just pasta or pizza, as what so many others have believed make up Italian cuisine. True enough, they serve us with dishes that are a far cry from these stereotypes but still prove to give you an Italian experience worth coming back for.
Nona Pastori's House Blend Iced tea
The Nona Pastori's House Blend Iced Tea (P65) as described is 'brewed ice tea the way grandma used to make.' After sipping this lightly sweet and refreshing beverage, I had wished that we had the same nona. I think I could get used to drinking this tea everyday.
Spinacci Al Formaggio
We were then served with the Spinacci Al Formaggio (for sharing - P285), a spinach and Capsicum cheese dip served with toasted baguette. The plating was simple, a “what you see is what you get” appeal but for the right reasons. The baguettes were laid around the ceramic pot which contained the dip, making it easier for picking and serving without the intimidating layout. The baguette had a crunchy frame but compensating for its drying effect was the heavenly cheese dip. It was creamy and smooth, and has the cheesy goodness that would make you forget your worries for that day. Don't get too excited though, as the cheese is very hot, I even burned the roof of my mouth due to my impatient craving. This is a warning for cheese lovers out there, but I doubt you'll heed it once you actually see this dish in front of your plate.
Fettuccine with Grilled Chicken Alfredo
The Fettuccine with Grilled Chicken Alfredo (Ala carte - P195, Sharing - P350) is handmade fetuccinni pasta lightly coated in a creamy cheese sauce topped with seasoned grilled chicken and served in a huge bowl. The strips of chicken alfredo added an interesting mix in the dish. The chicken was herby, light, and almost chewy. You can definitely pick out the taste from the pasta. The creamy cheese sauce of the smooth fetuccini tied in so well with the chicken. It makes this dish a must try for the Alfredo sauce, which Chef JJ claims is hardly popular as compared to carbonara and bolognese sauces.
Scaloppine Di Maiale
The Scaloppine Di Maiale (Ala carte P285 Sharing P435) which is seared and lightly simmered pork tenderloin bathed in Marsala Red wine, colors the dish with a nice rich brown with green herbs. Once bitten into, the wine and its juices sort of ooze out from the pork, giving you the flavor of the Marsala wine which combined quite well with the meaty taste of the pork. The pork tenderloins were chewy but not too tough, plus the wine added a nice punch to the dish. A heavy filler for the hungry, or the full, you'd think we'd stop here but we were in for more Italian goodness.
Filleto Di Soli Al Forna
The Filleto Di Soli Al Forna (Ala Carte - P265, Sharing - P590) is an oven-baked sole fillet in white wine and Capsicum. Just the aroma of the dish wafting around the table will make you believe that the dish will taste more than satisfactory, and it did. It was a visual landscape of green and red veggies with hidden and exposed brown and cream fillets. The dish offered two types of fish, one soft that easily breaks once it enters the mouth. The other, a darker fish meat that's tougher, chewier and jucier too. It's tart and a bit tangy, which goes well with the veggies. Both fish paired nicley with the vegetables but I prefer the latter. You can also opt to pair the dish with plain rice, garlic bread or mash potato with parmesan cheese. The mash potatoes were a hit, the smoothness combined with the fillets and vegetables resulted in soft textures that added warmth to the earthy flavors. This dish proved to be the favorite among us.
To complete our dining experience, we then proceeded by having dessert. The Crostoli (Regulare - P135) are delicate and lightly sweetened Italian biscuits plated in a big bowl. The pile of biscuits looked fragile and lightly golden, not too sweet but just right. It also goes nicely with any dessert. It was quite the addicting biscuit, perfect for munching while sharing tales with friends.
Chocolate Rhum Panna Cotta
The Chocolate Rhum Panna Cotta (Picollo P90) is the “Cooked Cream Favorite” Italian dessert served with a shot of melted chocolate rhum served in a separate glass from the panna cotta. You read right, rhum -- this dessert raises the bar for chocoholics because the rhum really packs a punch. The cool panna cota on the other hand, was so soft that it just melts in your mouth, leaving you the rhum taste. You can opt to eat it with the crostoli which tones down the rhum if you're not a big alcohol fan.
The Tiramisu (Picollo - P95, Regulare - P130) is Savioardi Sponge cookies soaked in coffee-Italian liquor, and layered with heavy cream. It produced a lightly sweet coffee taste without being too overpowering as the dish was light and fluffy. It was a welcome dessert to top off the hearty meals and good kwentuhan we had with the Chef and Sou chefs that afternoon.
You don't have to go far to experience authentic Italian dining at its best. Let Cucina Rusticana fill you with interesting dishes that may take some practice to pronounce, but are immensely good for sharing with friends and having a blast!
Cucina Rusticana is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 11:00 am-3:00 pm, 6:00 pm-10:00 pm. Call 478-3493 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.