Ah. Nothing beats reviewing an Italian restaurant as my first post after a very long blog hiatus. You see, this food blog has been a constant temptation to my diet, and I really felt I needed to lose weight. It was only recently when I already got into the habit of running that I trusted myself to blog about food again. Besides, I just couldn’t say no to Italian food!
L’Incontro is a cozy Italian restaurant located along Reposo Street in Makati City. Tina Pamintuan, its new owner since March 2010, has refashioned the 10-year-old restaurant with a fusion of the old and the new. From the contemporary interiors to the fresh menu, L’Incontro now aims for their customers to have an authentic “Italian dining table experience.”
Since we’ve always lived far from Makati (Quezon City before, and now, Cainta), we haven’t had the chance to visit L’Incontro before the change of management. And, to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I first got the invite to review the restaurant and its new menu. I just know I liked Italian food — its spices and its use of tomatoes. The most I was expecting was having pizza and a variety of pasta and sauces, but I was pleasantly surprised with what Corporate Chef Tina Pamintuan had in store of us!
We were greeted with a basket of bread and dips — a far cry from the usual olive oil and balsamic vinegar combination. The dips came in red and green: marinara and pesto. Paired with Peach Bellini, it was a great way to start a meal full of great food and pleasant conversation. But that was only the beginning.
Our appetizer included the Dolce Gnocchi Gorgonzola, Asparagus Straws, and Sicilian Scampi. The Dolce Gnocchi Gorgonzola was chewy and creamy, just the way I liked my gnocchi. I’m not a fan of plain old asparagus straws, but don’t let the name of the dish fool you. It’s far from being plain, I’ll tell you that. Lightly seasoned but combined with cheese and covered with bread crumbs, this delicious dish is topped with a generous helping of marinara sauce — a perfect way of dressing up plain ol’ boring asparagus!
The Sicilian Scampi… No way I’d turn this dish down The prawns were done without being overcooked, and had just the right amount of spiciness. Slice them up and pair with the veggies — YUM.
Have I ever told you how much I love tomatoes? Well, I do. Slices of tomato and cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar, it’s best paired with Prosecco wine. The Caprese Salad is a simple but tasty final prelude to an even more delicious meal to come.
I’m not much of a liquor drinker, but delicious pairings were just so hard to resist. The first course of our meal, or “Primo,” was the Crespella with Tartufo Sauce paired with Kendell Jackson Chardonay. The dish seems fairly ordinary, ham and cheese wrapped in crepe. But covered in Tartufo Sauce, it’s irresistible. The mushroom and truffle sauce made it such an unforgettable dish! But then again, I’m probably biased — I just love the combination of mushroom and truffle!
To start our main course, we were served Seabass Ala Sale — seabass baked in salt drizzled with lemon sauce. Surprisingly, the fish wasn’t too salty, which I was afraid it would be since it was, after all, baked in salt. The lemon sauce brought out the fish’s flavors, perfectly complemented by a glass of Carmenere Cabernet Reserva, which was also a great pair for the other main dish we tasted.
By this time, I’d have to admit the variety of wine pairings were starting to take toll on me. But I wasn’t the only one, as most of my fellow foodies were already starting to talk loudly and laugh a bit too often than usual. Though the wine really tasted great with the food, I thought it best to pass and opt for water instead so I could last the meal without embarrassing myself.
Now here’s another interesting dish, the Beef Taliata con Rucola. Topped with either truffle sauce or caper sauce, it was definitely the highlight of this meal. The side dishes served are great complements: Arugula Salad, Onion Gratin and Rosemary Potatoes. I’m not really a fan of Arugula — my taste buds don’t really like bitter leaves — but if taken with the beef and truffle sauce, it wasn’t so bad.
The Onion Gratin by itself was delicious enough, creamy but not too creamy. Combined with the Arugula Salad, the sweetness of the onions dimmed its bitter taste but not overshadowing. The bitter kick is still there, but just at the right amount.
The Rosemary Potatoes weren’t just carbs for the meal. It was filling indeed, but it also stood out on its own and complemented both the seabass and beef. The rosemary flavor wasn’t too strong, that’s for sure. You see, my husband loathes an overpowering rosemary flavor — he’d rather go on hunger strike than eat a dish with it. The rosemary flavor on the potatoes wasn’t strong enough for him to notice, it simply complemented the other dishes so well that he had no idea he was eating a dish flavored with a herb he so hated
We ended our meal with a “digestif,” a shot of Lemoncello. But before that, we had one of the best gelato I’ve had in a while. The Hazelnut Gelato is served like usual, but instead of just eating it as is, you pour a shot of Espresso and Amaretto Liquer over the ice cream. The result is a play of flavors — bitter and sweet, hot and cold, all at the same time. Simply delicious! It was a wonderful way to cap off a delightful lunch
The tray of fruits and cheeses were actually served before dessert, but we decided to move forward as eating the cheese and fruit platter usually takes up the longest time. Paired with dessert wine, the platter included grapes, Caramelized Brie, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Cheese Log, which is a concoction of different cheeses made by our host and chef. Get a slice of cheese, then pop a grape — the sweetness of the fruit and the saltiness of the cheese go so well together. This platter was made for lazy afternoons like this — conversations in a cozy, little Italian nook amidst a busy city.
L’Incontro’s updated menu is launched this July, so be sure to check it out!
Tags: Italian Cuisine