Published in Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section, August 14, 2011
Truly Va Bene!
It was insane to go out in that weather, but I was never one known for reason and sanity. On stormy nights when the heavens are angry and winds are unforgiving, most people stay home and enjoy TV dinners in front of the… well, TV. But I brave the weather and go out for pasta. Because there is something truly comforting about rain, thunder, and fresh al dente noodles.
We walked up to this little Italian joint at the second floor of Petron. Yes, the place where you bring your car for gas. Then we stopped dead in our tracks. Va Bene was full, every table filled with happy-looking people who didn’t seem to have a care about the wrath happening outside.
It was torture waiting by the glass doors, watching diners twirl pastas onto their forks, slide them into their mouths, and slurp up that last strand of noodle hanging between their lips. Ugh. Why were all these people here and not home watching TV???
I already knew what I wanted after ogling at the diners and the food in front of them. Shortly after we were seated, dinner began. It was a beautiful start with “Polipo,” a salad of thinly sliced octopus topped with the sweetest semi-dried tomatoes, orange slices, olives, capers, and a mound of lettuce tossed in lemon dressing. It was sweet, salty, tangy, all at the same time. At the lowest point in your life, a plate of this salad can bring back that zest in you.
To warm the tummy, we had the Tomato Soup with Lobster Ravioli. Little did we know this bowl of love would also warm our hearts.
And what do you do when there is foie gras in the menu? You don’t shy away from it. YOU ORDER IT. Va Bene’s Pan Roasted Foie Gras is a must for all. Resting atop a portobello raviolo and robed in sweet onion marmalade, the liver was crisp on the outside and smooth as butter inside. So good everything was gone in one bite.
As if that wasn’t indulgent enough, we drowned ourselves in the rich truffle-mushroom cream sauce that covered the melt-in-your-mouth Veal Cheek Ravioli. We bathed in its creaminess, earthiness, and meatiness. Chef Massimo’s wife Carol recommended this dish, and I shall love her forever for it. It is off menu so if you have to beg the chef to cook it for you, please, get down on your knees and start begging!
The Organic Eggs Tagliolini with Portobello Mushroom was equally beautiful-tasting in its white wine cream sauce and truffle oil. The pasta was perfectly al dente, and the combination of Portobello mushroom and truffle… OMG!
We also had the Black Ink Homemade Spaghetti with Seafood Marinara which was as tasty as it was colorful, the Crab Tortellini in Seafood Bisque and authentic Carbonara which were just okay.
To balance the carb overload, we had delicious Basil-Crusted Lamb Chops as tender as newborn babies. These were so good I did not stop at the meat. I also sucked them little lamb bones dry.
We capped off the meal the Jin Loves to Eat way, which means we ordered every single item on the dessert menu. Ha! We had Homemade Profiteroles with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, Panna Cotta Pudding topped with marinated strawberries and lingue di gatto, and Watermelon Prosecco Soup with vanilla ice cream.
The two yummiest desserts we saved for last. So refreshing and incredibly light was the Cioccolato Orange Parfait that I felt no guilt eating spoonful after spoonful of the frozen delight. The Strawberries ala Milena, strawberries marinated in balsamico and topped with vanilla ice cream, may sound very simple but is nothing simple when it comes to taste. The balsamico enhanced the berries’ sweetness and robustness, and the ice cream tamed the intense flavors. Truly intriguing, truly addicting.
Va Bene Pasta Deli is located at the Second floor of Petron Gas Station, Edsa corner Pasay Road, Dasmarinas, Makati City. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11:30am to 3:00pm and 6:00pm to 9:30pm. For reservations, call 556-9442, 9046063 or 0917-3456869.