Not only is the Circuit Makati branch of popular Italian pasta place Va Bene Pasta Deli the newest, it also offers a completely different menu compared to its other branches. Also, Chef Massimo Veronesi shares that the food he serves here have lower price points, but still delivering that full-on homey goodness his cooking brings — most especially the lineup of made-from-scratch pastas he's most famous for.
Whether you're new to the 'Va Bene' experience or a patron of the Italian restaurant's longtime best-sellers, there are good reasons to make your way to Circuit Makati to visit the new branch. Here are five ways Chef Massimo keeps things delicious and exciting at his third outpost.
1. Tapas-style 'Piatti Piccoli' big in flavor.
The newest branch of Va Bene is serving up a lot of new things. One of them is a lineup of Tapas-style appetizers, small bites you can enjoy as merienda, appetizers, or accompanying your cocktails or wine.
Served on crostinis, the Butter Squash (P260) and Salmon Tartar (P310) starters make for delightful small bites, the former served with a slathering of ricotta mousse and for the salmon, each piece drizzled with creamy tonnato sauce (a combination of tuna, anchovies, mayonnaise) and capers. We couldn't get enough of the new Crispy Polenta 'Arancini' (P280), Chef's Massimo's twist to the Italian deep-fried stuffed rice balls. His take is crisp on the outside, with a creamy texture of polenta (cornmeal) on the inside, and is best dipped in the blue cheese sauce.
2. Chef Massimo has more fresh pasta variants waiting for you.
More pasta offerings from this Italian chef is always a reason to celebrate–and eat. At this particular branch in Circuit Makati, the restaurant uses a different machine, and so the pasta possibilities are different compared to the first two outlets. Ravioli is also made fresh and served in the Makati and BGC branches, but exclusively at the new outpost is the luscious Duck Ravioli (P360) smothered in truffle mushroom sauce and duck jus reduction — truffle and mushroom are always an amazing combination, and the creamy sauce will delight all truffle lovers. They also make use of their new machine here to make new types of pasta which haven't been introduced to the older branches. Like the Reginette (P370), for example: it's a dish of curly, ribbon-shaped pasta with tender pieces of braised lamb shank and bits of Italian sausage; what makes the flavors more interesting here is the sauce combination of tomatoes and mint pesto.
A couple of my fresh pasta favorites from the Circuit Makati branch are the Cavatelli (P360), chewy and thick pasta (made eggless, using only semonilla flour) with tiny ridges that allow the sauce and cheese to cling onto it. This dish is tomato-based and has homemade pancetta, garlic, shallots, basil and extra virgin olive oil — it is seemingly simple in photos but full of flavor. The second personal favorite is Black Ink Spaghetti (P390). The dark hued pasta is served in the other branches but as tagliolini, and what makes this one extra special is its succulent combination of seafood: prawns and sea urchin tumble around the strands of spaghetti, together with garlic and chilies. A squeeze of the lemon brings out some brightness in every forkful.
3. There's pizza!
Fresh pasta may be Chef Massimo's forte and Va Bene's best-sellers, but their Napolitana style pizzas also hold promise — they use fresh ingredients, making every slice comforting with familiar flavors. They currently offer the classic Margherita (P290), Salmone (P320) with cream cheese and black olive pesto, Massimo (P360) which comines sausage, pepperoni, and prawns, and the Fiorentina (P360) which tops the chewy pizza with classic Italian components: gorgonzola, mozzarella, parma ham, and arugula.
4. Daily specials keep things fresh and fun.
Whenever the chef feels creative and wants to experiment in the kitchen, he includes his top picks as part of Daily Specials, items that can range from new pastas, pizzas, and even risotto, like the special of the day of our visit, Apple Risotto (P590).
The unique risotto is prepared with tiny bits of apple giving it crunch, then served with a balsamic glaze. There's also gorgonzola in this Italian rice dish, so every spoonful gives an interplay of salty, sweet, and tart. Va Bene in Circuit Makati also offered Tuna Pizza (P360) as a special, which we enjoyed with a kick of chili oil.
5. Give yourself a different dose of dolci.
Save room for dessert — new flavors await your sweet tooth. Visit Va Bene at Circuit Makati for sweet things like Cannoli (P220), the classic Italian pastry only available at this particular branch. There's also a Banana Cake (P220) mousse served with chocolate ice cream, and my favorite, Basil Panna Cotta (P220) served with calamansi sorbet. If you love citrus in your sweets like myself, get this dessert that's the most refreshing and bright meal-ender.
Va Bene Pasta Deli is now open at the ground floor of Circuit Lane Mall in Circuit Makati, Hipodromo Street, Makati City. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 5pm to 10pm (closed Mondays). The new branch currently offers Unlimited Cocktails from 5pm-10pm for P300. Call 960-9954, visit www.vabenepastadeli.com, and follow Va Bene on Facebook (/vabenepastadelimakati) and Instagram (@vabenepastadeliph).