The saying 'good things come in small packages' does not apply to Poco Deli. Because if you've truly been there, you'd know that 'good' is the last adjective one would use to describe this exceptional deli-cum-restaurant.
Established back in 2009, Poco Deli was a neighborhood secret until 2010, when it started making rounds in almost every foodie's blog. “We did not really employ any sort of traditional advertising. We only relied on word of mouth so we were very happy when people started recognizing us,” Chef Joy de Leon, owner and chef of Poco Deli, shared humbly. Chef Joy, who's always been culinary-inclined ever since childhood, is both a foodie and a traveler. Her wanderlust led her to the world's key dining destinations (Singapore and France, to name a few), where she, along with her husband, tried all sorts of restaurants be it a hole in the wall or a fancy one. “We went to this place in Singapore, where you could see them preparing the sausages right in front of you. I liked that. So I studied how to prepare my own sausages,” she continued. As most of Poco Deli's patrons know by now, her training in making sausages included a stint in the now defunct Mickey's Delicatessen. As one of the few people who know the secret behind Mickey's Nürnberger Sausage, Chef Joy was coaxed by her husband to put up a deli and serve the sorely-missed sausages. “So here, I now have Poco Deli,” she concluded her story with her charming smile.
Barely three years after it first started, the 50-seater nook located along East Capitol Drive now has its sizable share of patrons from all over the metro. On a weekday lunch time, the little deli gets packed with workers from the nearby offices. Nights, especially Fridays and Saturdays attract all sorts of foodies-- couples, families, and friends who usually drive from farther cities. “On our best nights, you could see people lining up outside,” Chef Joy shared with a tone of disbelief.
Can't quite grasp why people line up for a tiny neighborhood restaurant? Well, below are some of the reasons why people are loco for Poco.
Homemade and Premium European-style Sausages
Despite the number of delicatessens in the metro, Poco Deli loyalists seek their chillers for a pack or two of their homemade, extender-free, and extra juicy sausages. “People always tell me that there's no way I can make sausages without binders. But I can. It is possible,” Chef Joy explained. Poco Deli's sausages are made from meat and a mix from Chef Joy's top secret stash of spices imported from Germany. “No binders,” she repeatedly swore over the course of our conversation.
The great thing about Poco Deli's sausage menu is that it's highly customizable. Their Nürnberger, Italian Sausage, Wagyu, Chicken Sausage, Hungarian, Kabanosi, Frankfurter, et cetera, can be had in a single (P300-P450, depending on the kind), double (P480), or family serving sizes. The German Sausage Sampler (P480) is recommended for those who do not know yet their preference in sausages. Frankfurter, Cheese Krainer, Chicken Sausage, and Kielbasa makes an interesting and newbie-friendly mix. The Sausages can be had with a plateful of rice but I think it's best enjoyed with Assorted Cold Cuts (Single: P300, Double: P400).
“THE” Bacon Slab
I understand why people go crazy over Poco Deli's Bacon Slab (P280). Unlike the thin and wrinkly bacon the metro's used to, Poco's bacon is, well, a slab-- huge, thick, and smoky. Only done in small batches per day, the bacon is usually out of stock. Consider yourself extra lucky should you manage to get this dish past dinner time as almost every table asks for this piece of heaven in a plate.
But fret not should the worst of luck strike you on your particular visit and receive word that the said bacon is out of stock. There's a less popular dish in the menu that is as glorious as the bacon: their Gourmet Tapa with Eggs and Bacon Rice (P280)-- a strong contender for the metro's best tapa.
Gourmet Tapa with Eggs and Bacon Rice
Tender, salty, and juicy (wait, did I mention tender already?), Poco Deli's tapa is a terrific take on the popular Pinoy comfort food. Aaah! If only I can have this as breakfast everyday, waking up early will be the most enjoyable thing to do.
Black Out Chocolate Cake
This is the best chocolate cake in the metro. There. I said it. Poco Deli's ultra moist and decidedly chocolaty Black Out Chocolate Cake (P130) has just won this year's Trix Deseo Awards for unforgettable desserts. See the criteria for judging below:
Black Out Chocolate Cake
Appearance and Presentation-- simple but elegant enough: 23/25
Texture-- holds well, clean to cut, soft but compact: 25/25
Flavor-- rich but not overly so, evenly mixed: 25/25
Audience Impact-- girls from the table repeatedly said “Oh My Gosh” with every bite: 25/25
Interesting Homemade Ice Cream Flavors
Another option, or rather, an additional option for dessert in Poco Deli is gourmet ice cream. Long gone are the days when restaurant ice creams came in the boring form of vanilla and chocolate. Nowadays, ice creams are treated as “inventions” and Poco Deli is famous for their Black Out, Gorgonzola and Salted Caramel (price varies) flavors. Of the three, I'm partial to the Gorgonzola and Salted Caramel, only because I like Black Out more as a cake. True to their name's promised flavor, the ice creams make splendid meal enders.
Note: Red wine ice cream is coming soon!
Above are just four reasons why I'm loco for Poco. There's still the list of my other favorites such as the sausage-laden Quatro Carne Pizza (P360), and hearty Spanish Callos with Brown Rice (P300). I'm not to forget the excellent Wine Selection that's approved by connoisseurs but not too alien for amateur drinkers as well. And oh! I also appreciate the friendly service-- how everyone from the restaurant makes an effort to help first timers and interact with patrons.
Quatro Carne Pizza
Spanish Callos with Brown Rice
I can go on and on 'til about ten if only the word count does not limit me. But I hope by now you get how appreciative I am of this restaurant. Take note how I never used the word good as a description in all of this article because really, Poco Deli-- one of the latest additions in my long list of favorite restaurants-- deserves more than that. Poco Deli, if I may boldly say, is one of the best things that happened to Kapitolyo. And if I indeed own an award giving body, I'd be happy to present it a plaque or two.