CHECK IT OUT: Il Ponticello at Valero Street, Makati
Ponti’s back-and it’s armed with a new menu and bar.
Unit 203 2/F Antel Corporate Center, 121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
Tel. No. 553-9971, 994-9512
Open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Monday to Friday), 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. (Monday to Thursday), 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Friday and Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) Il Ponticello, once the den of Manila yuppies and the perennial subject of "Friday night?" conversations, has finally grown up. This was the clear direction the moment Steve Magdaraog and his group took over the popular Italian bar and restaurant late last year. It was time to catch up to market of formerly beer-loving folks in their early 20s.
They’re 30 now. We kid, of course, but growth called for a different kind of late night. Newfound maturity paved way to cleaner lines and neutral shades making up the softly lit interiors. A swankier, more modern, more subdued style that’s complementary to the overhauled carte du jour that Chef Panky Lopez describes as "modernized Italian." "As much as we want our food to be authentic, we also want to (update) it a bit. We’re trying to innovate and modify our food with lots of texture and new cooking techniques," he explains.
A proper Italian meal commences by sipping an aperatif while having small bites of antipasti. The Ponti Spritz (P300/glass), Aperol and soda water with fruity notes, pairs well with Ponti’s Homemade Grilled Italian Sausages (P190) or small portions of grilled pork with a subtle herby taste-just enough to tease the palate. The more robust Arancini Arrabbiata (P180), however, pulls for the same effect. Crisp and starchy fried risotto balls wrapped in thick and steaming arrabbiata sauce create an intriguing medley of textures. The winner, however, is the Grilled Portobello Alla Griglia (P480), a delicate and flowy bundle of grilled Portobello mushrooms, mozzarella, smoked ricotta, and poached cherry tomatoes.
Crema di Tartufo
It’s easy to predict the menu frontrunners. Friendly pasta dishes like the Crema di Tartufo (P420), fusilli enveloped in creamy sauce mixed with truffle paste and oil and embellished with bits of Porcini mushrooms for an earthy component, will quickly be instant crowd favorites. The Gnocchi Gorgonzola (P360), meanwhile, is a comforting plate of light potato and semolina pillows swimming in warm Gorgonzola cream and topped with toasted walnuts for added texture.
Among the cast of pizzas, the Pizza Valdostana (P480) is the star. Slightly sweet and lightly salty prosciutto creates a delicate layer over warm pizza dough. A zesty kick comes from the generous serving of arugula on top.
Poached Chilean Sea Bass
Presentation matches flavors in the Poached Chilean Sea Bass (P1,300). The flaky, richly flavored fish is enveloped in a pungent prawn broth with slices of spicy sausage and fresh tomatoes-all served in a glass jar to seal the heat. The slow-braised Spicy Pork Belly (P390) is an intricate creation where flavors from the arrabbiata sauce, roasted potatoes, glazed shallots, balsamic reduction, and basil oil come together in one explosive harmony.
Cheesecake Panna Cotta
Ponti also introduces the Nutella liquor, a fusion of Nutella and vodka meant to complement the dessert options. A sip or a shot (however you like it) is best consumed with the velvety Tiramisu (P290) or the light Cheesecake Panna Cotta (P290).
With its more mature stance, it’s easy to point and say that Ponti has "aged"-but gracefully.