Salvatore Cuomo at Uptown Parade in Bonifacio Global City

So how does it feel to be a "tourist in your own country?"

I never thought the time would come when Paul and I actually would feel that way. I guess it's pretty inevitable given that we've been away from Manila for more than 3 years and we only get to fly home at an average once every quarter and during those visits, we would only stay for a week or even less. For a country that's fast developing (I hope) and there are just a lot of new retail outlets and restaurants opening left and right, we recently found ourselves lost while navigating around... Bonifacio Global City -- a place that we used to frequent more than once a week many years ago. Believe it or not, I even had to call my sister to help us find our way out to C5. Unbelievable.

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Anyway, before our little "lost in BGC" moment, Paul and I had a wonderful quadruple dinner date at the newly opened Salvatore Cuomo with our long-time friends. I was so excited when A suggested that we try Salvatore Cuomo and it was just perfect that both R and P have never been there too. Chef Salvatore Cuomo has Italian and Japanese roots so it wasn't a big surprised that this restaurant actually originated in Japan and if I'm not mistaken, this particular outlet in the Philippines is the first in Southeast Asia. It's truly an honor for Chef Salvatore Cuomo to consider opening his first SEA outlet in the Philippines.

I'm loving the very modern yet classy vibe of Salvatore Cuomo. Dimly lit lights, dark wooden furnishings and an open kitchen. It's just fun to watch the chefs in action and right at the corner is this beautiful oven that uses specially selected wood to give the pizza a distinct delicious flavor. I was told that all the ingredients were carefully sourced and most of it were even asked to be imported by Chef Salvatore Cuomo himself.

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Our friends arrived shortly after and dinner began with their complimentary bread basket. Together with the slices of French bread are these interesting looking round donut-like bread called Zeppole. Apparently, these are really popular among the restaurant's patrons and one bite immediately told us why. It's a delicious fried dough that tastes closely similar to a thick pizza crust. They gave us some olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dip but if you ask me, the Zeppole can definitely be eaten alone or if you really must, then go and dip it in to make it extra yummy. I wonder if it would also go well with tangy marinara sauce. What do you think?

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Following the bread basket was our appetizer -- Tagliere di Affettati (Php. 960). It's an assortment of fresh parma ham, salami and mortadella ham on a heavy wooden board. Not really a fan of cold cuts as I prefer cheese more but if you are then this is a must-try.

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What I loved was the Caprese con Mozzarella di Bufala (Php. 750). My goodness! The buffalo mozzarella was the BOMB! Have it together with some basil leaf and tomatoes and you'll love the explosion of flavors in your mouth. Surprisingly, I find the cherry tomatoes to be more on the sweet side showing how good the quality of these tomatoes are. I'm pretty sure my Mommy will love this too and I have to remember to order this on my next visit this time with the family.

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For our soup, we tried the Zuppa di Pesce (Php. 1,400) which is the restaurant's signature soup. It's a hearty seafood broth filled with fish, prawns, mussels, squid and clams. One order is probably good for 2-3 to be shared. We all loved the tanginess brought about by the tomato soup stock and the combination of all these seafood flavors just makes it so satisfying.

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Of course, what's a meal at an Italian restaurant without pizza and pasta? We got two types of pizza and three pasta dishes to try. First up was the Quattro Formaggi (Php. 770). Let me just say that I think I must have died and went to cheese heaven that evening. Following the delicious Caparese Salad, we all loved this 4 cheese pizza which was drizzled with sweet honey. Oh yeah! We loved it so much that we had to order another one which came just right before dessert. Just perfect. If you love salt-sweet combinations then you'll love this too.

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Our next pizza was the D.O.C. (Php. 850). This stands of Denominazione di Origine Controllata, an original creation of Chef Salvatore Cuomo where he made use of fully-ripened cherry tomatoes, a generous amount of Buffala Mozzarella, basil and a splash of olive oil. Many would think that it's like a Margherita Pizza but the secret lies on the mozzarella. It has a very clean taste and it's perfect for those who wants their pizza simple yet totally flavorful.

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As for our pasta dishes, we had the classic Spaghetti Carbonara (Php. 480). I guess just like how we would have tamago sushi as a basis for good Japanese restaurants, it's the carbonara which will be the test to see how good and authentic a restaurant is in Italian cooking. People may think that it's such a simple dish but believe me, it takes some level of skill and precision to perfect the real spaghetti carbonara. I noticed that Salvatore Cuomo's version was very light and it wasn't salty at all. Most probably no heavy cream was added and perhaps they just made use of egg which is what the traditional recipe normally calls for.

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My favorite though was the Fettucine ai Scampi (Php. 850). Readers of this blog probably know by now how much I love seafood and this one got a perfect 10. Freshly made flat noodles cooked in a rich seafood and tomato cream sauce then served with the biggest prawn I've ever seen. It was meaty, light and comforting all in one. To be honest, this dish is one that I wouldn't mind having all to myself. Sorry Paul, no sharing! :)

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We also tried the Spaghetti ai Funghi e Salmone Affumicato (Php. 490). If you noticed, we had a white sauce pasta followed by a tomato-based one and lastly, we tried one that's cooked in olive oil. Al dente pasta noodles cooked with flakes of smoked salmon, mushrooms and diced tomatoes.

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To balance out all our carb-fest, we had the Tagliata di Manzo (Php. 1,800) which is a manly man block of beef ribeye steak cooked in basil sauce and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. It's a very straightforward dish but really, in life, some things need not be complicated. This is a very simple dish sans any cream or additional toppings but it was definitely one of the highlights of our dinner that evening. The serving was also very generous so don't be shocked by the price as you're getting good quality beef matched with top quality cooking and it can be shared by two.

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As a perfect ending to our meal, we tried the Tiramisu paired with Pistachio Ice Cream. Who would have thought that these two would complement each other. The strong coffee flavor of the tiramisu just went so well with the nutty taste of the ice cream. It was indeed a match made in food heaven.

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Our second dessert was the Mango Panna Cotta which was pretty good too but my vote totally went to the Tiramisu that evening.

It was such an amazing evening and indeed, this was definitely one of the highlights of our recent visit home. It's always fun catching up with old friends over a good meal.

*photos by Paul Ang

Check out Salvatore Cuomo at the Ground Floor, Uptown Parade in Bonifacio Global City. Call them at 946-3072 / 946-3073 for reservations. 

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