Sometimes the best food discoveries are not found in malls and other big commercial establishments but in quaint, hole in the wall places. My latest food finds are served at the Italian restaurant called Bistro Casanova, which is located in the quiet side of Burgos Circle at Fort Bonifacio Global City.
This charming resto-bar opened in early 2011 and it is the second branch of this now six-year-old brand. The secret to its success is that it offers authentic Italian cuisine. Diners may choose from a variety of appetizers, soups, salads, pasta, risotto, entrées, and desserts. Nearby condominium residents would probably enjoy eating there regularly, as the menu has a wide selection of fine Italian dishes.
A slice of Venice
The warm atmosphere welcome me as I entered the establishment. I glanced around the cozy restaurant and my eyes stopped at the focal point of the room—the hand painted mural of the canals in Venice. The vibrant artwork adds to the dining experience, as well as the little décor accents such as the genuine Murano mirror and lighting fixtures.
Casual Italian dining
The hand-painted mural
Most of the dining tables were indoors but the restaurant also has an al fresco area where some regulars enjoy hanging out. Bistro Casanova also has its own telescope, which diners are welcome to use especially on a clear night out. Unfortunately, it was a rainy night when we visited the restaurant so we were not able to go stargazing. But the telescope was not the main attraction, it was the food.
Bistro Casanova is cozy and casual
A cozy nook inside
My dinner companion and I started with some special antipasti. The Involtini Vegetali Alle Due Salse (P345) is a light appetizer made with rolled grilled eggplants, bell pepper, and zucchini and served with pesto and sun-dried tomato sauces. The smoky flavor of the grilled eggplant blended well with the other vegetables and the two sauces. I thought the flavors worked well together. I could have eaten the whole plate!
Involtini Vegetali Alle Due Salse
Another notable starter is the Pachino Ripieno Costa di Pizza (P360), which sounds so foreign but the flavors are somewhat familiar. Imagine a cherry tomato that is stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella cheese then rolled in crispy pizza and Parma ham... It is like a more glamorous version of pizza that is bite-sized. And yes, this innovative concept tastes as good as it sounds.
Pachino Ripieno Costa di Pizza
As if the starters weren’t enough, we also shared a salad serving of Itaca (P235). It was a plateful of iceberg lettuce, sliced red onions, tomatoes, cucumber, black olives and feta cheese, all of which was dressed in extra virgin olive oil condiment. The salad was deliciously light, crispy, and spicy since the onions had some kick to it.
As we whetted our appetite and waited for the main course, we had a chance to chat with the restaurant’s Operations Manager, Mark Anthony de Jesus. He mentioned that the restaurant is offering a Four-Course Executive Lunch Set Menu and a Happy Hour from 3PM to 7PM daily. He even shared that the restaurant features acoustic bands every Saturday. Too bad we went there on a weekday, but that gives us a reason to visit again.
After our nice chat, I sipped on some refreshing melon shake while my dinner partner had some red wine. We happily took in the chic surroundings when the appetizing aroma of truffle oil wafted through the air. Ahh, our main course has arrived.
Capelli D’Angelo Al Tartufo Asparagini E Speck
We sampled the specialty of the house, Capelli D’Angelo Al Tartufo Asparagini E Speck (P395), which was homemade angel hair pasta with truffle cream sauce that is topped with asparagus and cured ham. The pasta was al dente and the sauce was just right—not too creamy, nor watery. But the star of the show was the truffle oil, which added that very enticing aroma and flavor. Plus, the addition of the crunchy asparagus and the salty ham made this dish my favorite of the night.
Ravioli Verdi Ricotta Spinaci
Another must-try pasta dish is the Ravioli Verdi Ricotta Spinaci (P395), green ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach and then cooked in tomato ricotta cheese sauce. The tangy tomato sauce cuts the creaminess of the ravioli filling. It was another satisfying dish.
Aside from the traditional pasta, there are other Italian favorites in Bistro Casanova. We tried the risotto and chicken and both were served in one plate, although these are usually ordered separately. It’s so nice that the restaurant can accommodate special requests.
Risotto and Pollo
Our choice for the night was Risotto Al Tartufo Bianco (P395), Italian rice cooked with wine and white truffle that was so fragrant and creamy. We paired it with the Pollo Prosciutto (P435), which was a piece of chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto ham. Each spoonful of risotto melted in my mouth and the chicken was tender to the bite. It was a good combination, albeit quite a rich and savory dish.
I thought that I wouldn’t have room for dessert, but I just had to nibble on something sweet to end my meal. Good thing I went with a dinner companion so I can take small bites from the different desserts. We tried the Mango Tango (P165) and the Zuppa Inglese Classico (P195), which is a moist rum cake. Both cakes provided a sweet ending to our Italian feast. For those who want something light, there’s always the classic Panna Cotta (P165).
Zuppa Inglese Classico
I do not normally eat that much for dinner but I think that it’s nice to treat yourself and indulge once in a while with some really good food and company.
Bistro Casanova offers party take-out packages for those who want to bring home some authentic Italian cuisine. Also, watch out for the restaurant’s upcoming offerings such as the Diablo Steak, which would feature daily steak specials, as well as the best of Italy’s regional cuisine, which they plan to highlight every quarter.