February 14, 2012
Il Piccino Trattoria by Chef Natalia Moran, formerly known as La Casa Alfonso, is a romantic, by-reservation-only restaurant. She opens her ancestral home to family, friends, and foodies to share her love for Italian food. :)
She is known in Mercato Centrale as the Ravioli Queen, selling freshly made ravioli in the market.
We love quaint, home-based restaurants like this where the food is cooked with love, and people are welcomed as personal guests of the chef.
We celebrated the eve of Valentine's in Il Piccino Trattoria with a special set menu prepared especially for this love month. Here's our experience...
The ground floor is where the personal rooms are found, and the Trattoria is located in the living room and the outside patio.
We ate in the patio area, which was a bit cramped and the mosquitoes there were a bit annoying. I imagine it would be easy to overhear the conversations at the next table, which might take away the intimate feel of the place.
The set menu changes every month. Drinks are charged separately (Water-P30, Soda-P50, White White Wine- P150, Red Wine - P180). You can bring your own wine if you prefer.
We ordered different options per course so that we could try them all.
The starter is a serving of bread with garlic and cheese, paired with really good balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Our bread and garlic were served a little cold already (maybe because we arrived a bit late). The bread sticks could be improved because they tasted like the ones you can buy from the supermarket.
After this starter, we went straight to the next dish since there's no salad or soup option in the menu.
The risotto was nicely al dente. I liked how it had the right creaminess and bite to it.
One of the Chef's specialties is the ravioli, and it did not disappoint. The soft and freshly made ravioli with creamy blue cheese was tempered by the taste of the asparagus sauce.
For the seafood course, we decided to just order the same mahi mahi dish. We loved the balance of flavors from the slightly salty and fork-tender mahi mahi, the citrus contribution of the orange, and herb-y taste from the pesto and alfalfa sprouts.
At this point, we found the first part of the menu a bit filling already, but these icy calamansi bits helped prepare our palate for the last course and dessert.
Although we were not asked how we wanted our meat cooked, it came out medium well, which is what we like. :)
Go for the lamb--it's wonderfully spiced, not dry, and you'll eat it until only the bones are left. The mashed potato complements it quite well.
The tenderloin steak was cooked well outside with still a bit of pinkish meat inside. The serving portion's good for sharing, too.
Try the steak and the lamb. The additional P300 (for each dish) is worth it. :)
One of the things I liked about the meal was the dessert. This really good chocolate drink by RISA Chocolatier was heavenly. :) The chocolate is mixed with cheese, which really makes it a yummy combination.
The best part of the meal? Ending it with exquisite chocolate pralines. :) Save the BEST for last!
Your dining room area is really quaint and beautiful. It could be easily converted into a Chef's table that has a great view of the kitchen.
If you are tired of commercialized restos and are looking for a private romantic escape in the metro, check out this Il Piccino secret in San Juan. :)
IL PICCINO TRATTORIA
by Chef Natalia Moran
162 Alfonso XIII Street, San Juan City, 1500
Telephone: +632 964-8034
Mobile: +63 917 829-1900
Facebook: Gruppo Il Piccino
Live an Awesome Life,
Full Disclosure: We paid for our meals. Chef Natalia Moran is a former vendor partner in Mercato Centrale, but we are not connected with the restaurant and any organization promoting it.
P.S. From Ortigas-Greenhills, turn left into Santolan Road then right on M. Paterno Street (after right after Pasadena St.). Go straight and make a sharp U-turn-like left (where the police precinct and Fiesta Greetings Factory Outlet are located) along Alfonso St. You should see #162 (white gate) on your right. Park along the street in front of the house.
P.P.S. Trivia: Il Piccino means the "Little One", named after the chef's one-year-old son. :)