Back Home in Manila : Festa Italiana at Cucina, Marco Polo Ortigas

I'm aliveeeeeeeee!!!

This is probably the fist time in 10 years that my blog has been this quiet but I got a couple of good excuses reasons why. First of all, Paul and I have been busy the past few months as we have decided to finally relocate back to Manila. Yes, you read that right. We're finally back home and we haven't been happier. Don't get me wrong, our life in Singapore was nothing but a dream come true but every good chapter should have an equally good ending and so we have decided to close that chapter just at the perfect time as we await to start a new one. Secondly, speaking of opening a new chapter. I'm so excited to share with you all that another dream of ours is about to unfold in the next few months, Paul and I will be welcoming our bundles of joy. That wasn't a grammatical error. We prayed so hard for almost a year and God answered our prayers by not only blessing us with one but with two beautiful babies whom we're both so excited to meet. Yes, we're expecting a pair of twins! It was surely worth the wait, don't you think? So there you go, this pretty much explains my inactive blog activity but since I'm back home, I promise to catch up and share with you all of our food discoveries not only in Manila but in Singapore as well. ♥ 

Let me start by telling you about one of the most recent dinners at Cucina at Marco Polo Ortigas. If you remember early this year, Paul and I got to visit Cucina where we enjoyed a wide variety of dishes from their mouthwatering paella to their Filipino and Asian dishes and of course, their great choice of desserts too. So, when we got an invite to have a taste of Cucina's latest promotion featuring the specialty of visiting chef Andrea Delzanno, we made sure not to miss it.

Chef Andrea Delzanno is from Marco Polo Hong Kong and he has lived in Hong Kong for a decade. He comes from the Northern part of Italy so you'll see a lot of seafood, creamy dishes in the line up coming from his hometown but Chef Andrea also told us that he has included a couple of dishes from the Southern part of Italy as well such as those that makes use of tangy marinara sauce and veggies.

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For starters, indulge in a delicious and refreshing masterpiece of Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese Salad. Otherwise known as a Caprese Salad, it's a very simple antipasti which everyone will surely love. Sadly, I sat out on this one as preggy women can't take soft cheeses so.. boo! My dining companions all enjoyed it though so I highly recommend that you don't miss this.

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There's also the Mixed Seafood Salad with Lemon Dressing is perfect for all seafood lovers out there. It's an assortment squid, shrimps and mussels tossed in a light and citrusy lemon dressing.

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Another starter which my dining companions loved was the Parma Ham and Melon. This is one of my favorite Italian appetizer back in my pre-preggy days and I watch Paul with great envy as he enjoyed the sweet-salty flavor of thinly sliced prosciutto wrapped around a slice of juicy melon.

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Moving on, we had the Traditional Tomato Soup with Garlic Bread and Parmigiana Cheese. Finally, one that I can enjoy till the last drop. I normally shy away from anything tomato-based but this one was more savory-sweet than tangy and I really love the fragrant and crunchy garlic bread which I would coat the soup with before taking a bite. So yummy!

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For our mains, we had the Risotto with Mushrooms which is one that you should not miss. I love how Chef Andrea has perfectly cooked the risotto giving it a nice creamy texture. Not a single grain was missed as you won't get any uncooked, hard ones. I believe that it takes some kitchen skills to perfectly execute a good plate of Risotto and Chef Andrea's team has prepared pots full of this all throughout the buffet period.

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Italian cuisine is also known for its seafood as Italy is part of the Mediterranean region where it's surrounded with big bodies of water. That said, expect to enjoy a good mix of seafood-loaded dishes when dining in Italy. The Garoupa with Tomato sauce, Olives and Potatoes is one delicious dish that will make you eat your fish and veggies. Cooked in rich, tangy tomato sauce, the fish was so tender and I really love anything with olives.

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There's also the Braised Chicken Cacciatore Style which comes with an assortment of veggies and chicken fillet cooked in a big pot.

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Of course, what's Italian cooking without your carbs? We had our fill of Cucina's freshly baked pizza such as the Pizza Margherita, Salami Pizza and one with Blue Cheese all night. I love how you get a nice smokey flavor from the crust and the pizza has just the right amount of toppings without making it too heavy or light to be fully enjoyed.

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Lastly, I couldn't help but ask for a plate of Pasta to be prepared on the spot. They got the Linguine alle Vongole but for me, I had the Pasta Carbonara with bacon bits on top.

It was such a delightful evening spent with our closest foodie friends while enjoying Chef Andrea's specialties are Cucina. He'll be here till the 18th of June so it would also be a great way to celebrate Father's Day especially if Dad is a big Italian cuisine fan.

Buffet Rates:
Monday - Saturday Lunch: Php. 1,500
Sunday - Friday Dinner: Php. 1,800
Saturday Dinner: Php. 2,650
Sunday Lunch: Php. 2,650

Make your reservations at Cucina by calling +63-2-720 7720 or email them here.

*photos by Paul Ang

Cucina is located at the 24th level of Marco Polo Ortigas, Meralco Avenue and Sapphire Street, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

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