New Restaurant Alert: Casa Italia at Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City
Italian food by way of Singapore
Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City
Open from 6:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Sunday to Thursday) and 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Friday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) Folks looking for a chill place that serves Italian favorites like pasta, coffee, and gelato need not look further than Casa Italia. This Singaporean chain has seen never-ending lines since it opened early this month.
“I was looking for food that’s very addictive, 'yong babalik-balikan mo at hahanapin, and I wanted a company with the same vision I had,” says Casa Italia’s CEO Jay Tan.
He came across Gelateria Italia, a successful Singaporean gelato chain looking to expand into a cafe. “Since gelato pa lang sila, sabi nila sa akin, ‘What’s your vision for the brand?’ Sabi ko, ‘If it’s just gelato, I don’t want it. But if you can create a brewed coffee line and provide good home-cooked Italian food, I’m all for it because in the Philippines, mas uso 'yong people would lounge around, stay for a few hours,” Tan says. “Actually, I remember, when the Italian founder answered me, he said, ‘We must be soulmates. That’s exactly what I’m thinking.’ I said, ‘If that’s what you’re thinking, let’s meet.’”
From a gelateria to a full-service restaurant...
Any doubts Jay may have had about the franchise were dispelled when he was given a tour of their commissary and made to try durian gelato. “I don’t like durian really, I don’t eat durian at all; I’ve never eaten durian, but when I tasted the durian gelato, sobrang sarap. If he can make me eat durian, sabi ko, pwede na ‘to.”
What impressed Jay the most, however, was the coffee. “I’m actually a coffee addict. I love coffee. I drink seven cups a day. I really like their coffee. It’s third-wave specialty coffee, pero sabi ko, ‘Let’s bring down the prices. Let’s not make it third-wave prices.’”
You can eat and run or sip and linger.
All of the beans used in Casa Italia’s coffee come from Central America, a mix of beans from Costa Rica, Honduras, and Brazil. “Venetian roast, medium roast, the way Italians do it,” Jay says. “The best way to make your coffee is the Italian way. Why? If you look at all the coffee terms, all these terms are Italian. All the coffee machines are Italian, except for the beans–there are no beans in Italy. But there’s no chain here that makes Italian coffee–puro Japanese or U.S. so sabi ko, ‘Subukan natin.’ But syempre, I’m not here to compete with the big boys. I’m just here to provide good coffee, good food, good Italian food, and good gelato. We made it a one-stop store.”
Tuna and Egg Sandwich
Casa Italia’s menu is compact. The Vegetable Lasagna (P250) is a bit on the sweet side, but the serving is hefty and the dish is filling. The Bolognese (P230) is deliciously meaty, with a bit of tart from the tomato sauce–classic Italian stuff. Pair it with the Meatballs with Pomodoro Sauce (P250) for an even more filling meal. The Carbonara (P230) is a solid go-to, the sauce just about coating the noodles, imparting enough flavor without overwhelming.
Meatballs in Pomodoro Sauce
Fish Fillet with Siciliana Sauce
The 1/2 Roast Chicken with Potatoes (P350) is a bestseller. The chicken is tender and flavorful, its juices pooling at the bottom of the dish, the potato wedges that accompany it are soft on the inside and just barely crisp on the outside. Those in the mood for seafood can opt for the Fish Fillet with Siciliana Sauce (P350).
The restaurant has an extensive drink menu that includes shakes, a Yogurt Smoothie (P180/12 oz, P190/16 oz), and of course, specialty coffee (P100 to P185). Casa Italia calls its process Coffee Otto, the latter meaning "eight" in Italian. This means that the coffee in the store is never older than eight weeks from roasting.
The gelato (P130/one scoop, P195/two scoops, P260/three scoops) is made from scratch, with ingredients sourced from the very best places around the world, like pistachios from Bronte, Sicily, and vanilla from Madagascar. According to Jay, all the flavors sell well. “I’m surprised because if you look at the gelato shelves, even 'yong pagbabawas ng gelato,” he says. “The Earl Grey is picking up very quickly, may loyal following din siya, and the dark chocolates–Truffle, Ferrero, Toblerone–may loyal fan base na. For kids, the Nutella and Cookies and Cream.” The gelato is delicious. Customers are encouraged to try spoonfuls of the different flavors before choosing, and the hardest part is making the final decision. The Truffle, for example, tastes of deep, rich chocolate. The passion fruit, is wonderfully tart and tastes of its namesake.
The raspberry even comes with fruit!
You can enjoy them for take-out.
Jay says that the restaurant was built with the leisurely diner in mind. “You can lounge here if you want, it’s comfortable,” he says. “Kung gusto mo tumambay, high-speed Internet, you want to eat good food, you want to take it out, you want good coffee, it’s here, it’s very affordable.”
The restaurant is still on its first month of operation and still needs to adjust to the ebb and flow of the industry. Still, there are big things to watch for, such as vegan gelato, gluten-free gelato, gluten-free breads, and round pizzas with specialty cheeses.
When asked what he wanted diners to know about Casa Italia, Jay says, “This restaurant may be Italian, but our hearts are Filipino. I was in Singapore and Italy looking–iba talaga tayo. It’s really our passion.”
Photos by Sandra Dans