New Restaurant Alert: Raffaele at Intramuros, Manila
Great view, great food, and a great time.
3/F The Bayleaf Hotel, Muralla Street corner Victoria, Intramuros, Manila
Tel. No. 318-5003, 318-5000
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) The place used to be an open veranda: it was an al fresco escape from the confines of the meeting rooms on the same floor. But after a recent renovation, the hotel found better use of it in the form of Raffaele, a chic Italian restaurant named after the father of modern-day pizza. The 60-seater exudes sleek simplicity with pops of apple green, deep yellow, and purple. The view outside, however, is the main attraction. Encased in almost all glass, the restaurant gives you a rare bird’s-eye view of the historic walls of Intramuros as well as a serene scene of the garden and golf course.
This momentary escape is complemented with good food: a revelation of Italian dishes prepared by Executive Chef Carlo Santiago. Don’t make the regretful decision of passing up on the appetizers and ordering straight from the list of mains. The Lingua con Tonnato (P380) is a must-try, with braised and seared slices of ox tongue having the same texture and richness as foie gras. The tender pieces rest on a bed of tuna mayo and topped with roasted bell peppers, sweet pickled onions, tomatoes, garlic and parsley, all the elements coming together in harmony. Chef Carlo allows some dishes to deviate slightly from tradition. The Vongole Blanco (P380) is where fresh clams are steamed in a hearty broth of white wine that have been steeped with ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes and tiltilan or local fish roe. Use the pieces of grilled bread to sponge up those juices. In the Gamberetti (P380), peeled plump shrimps are cooked in paprika oil, preserved lemons and almonds to provide a subtle zing and more bite from the usual.
Lingua con Tonnato
The chef pays careful attention to something as simple as the Caprese Salad (P370), too. More pronounced flavors are developed from the combination of fist-sized tomatoes which have been roasted and de-skinned for a sweeter flavor, aged balsamic vinegar for a more intense taste, and the truffled lemon vinaigrette for a nice balance.
You have the option of having the crusty or the traditional kind of wood-fired pizza, the restaurant’s specialty. Eleven different flavors are at your disposal-from the classic Margherita (P450) and Napoletana (P450) to more playful ones like the new Porchetta Pizze (P550), which is studded with roasted pork pieces, ricotta cheese, tomatoes, anchovies, and nuts.
The Casa Bolognese (P390) is a wide-mouthed shallow bowl of al dente tortiglioni pasta enrobed with goat cheese, mint pesto. The hearty meat sauce blends together ox tail, pork belly, and lamb shoulder that has been cooked to tender for hours. Another standout is the Agnello (P750), which is composed of perfectly seasoned garlic fries, sautéed greens, mint jelly, and marinated lamb ribs that have been cooked sous vide 10 hours before kissing the grill. You’ll realize the meticulous preparation as you marvel at the fall-off-the-bone meat.
Dolci al Cioccolato
Frutta con Ricotta
The desserts are not-to-be missed, especially the Dolci al Cioccolato (P350), warm flourless chocolate cake with creme anglaise. For a lighter and more refreshing alternative, the Frutta con Ricotta (P360) is a pretty display of macerated fruits, ricotta cheese, and honeycomb chunks sitting snugly on subtly citrusy curd then sprinkled with crushed pistachios. It is beautifully structured and bursts with color and flavor.
The combination of food in scenery is enough of a pull for you to visit Raffaele. It’s a breath of fresh air in the Old City.