New Restaurant Alert: Casano at San Roque, Marikina
All is done in good taste here: Italian food, music, and interiors.
172 J.P. Rizal Street, San Roque, Marikina City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) A beautiful 1947 home it may have been, but walk up the stairs from the front door and you’ll find two young men—both aged 26—at the helm of this house-turned-restaurant in Marikina. Meet Bryan Salcedo and Gerome Carlos, longtime friends who decided to turn their backs on their corporate jobs to open a restaurant along J.P. Rizal Street in Marikina. Together with another friend who eventually had to bow out of the business, they came up with Casaño.
Casaño is a play on their surnames Carlos, Salcedo, and Abaño (the third friend). Before Gerome's mother bought the place, it used to house the services of a local dentist. When the aspiring restaurateurs were scouting for a location, they didn't have to look too far.
Guests walk up to the main floor to be greeted and led to their table.
They kept the house’s original buffet and cabinet. It now stores some supplies and glassware.
Casaño has wider tables than usual to accommodate their bigger plates.
Bryan and Gerome serve what they call "Italian fusion." "We didn't want to be restricted with Italian cuisine. We have things like an Italian-Mexican patty for our burgers and we also love Filipino dishes, so we have Chicken Pork Adobo Espagnole, which was cooked in Espagnole sauce, to cater to Filipino taste,” explains Bryan.
The pair takes pride in what they describe as “a very affordable gourmet concept.” As Gerome puts it: “Our price point is cheap compared to fine dining where [people] could find the same level of food.” Case in point: At Casaño, ingredients are fresh and everything is made from scratch. Dishes are also all prettily presented so even your eyes can enjoy the meal.
Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni
One of Casaño’s signature Rigattoni tower pasta dishes
Since this is an Italian restaurant, pasta has its designated place on the menu. The Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni (P210) features a favorite combination stuffed, oozing, and ready to enjoy in a tube of pasta. Apart from their pre-arranged combinations, Casaño also invites guests to customize their own by choosing their preferred noodles, sauce, and topping. The serving portions are generous that you might be hard-pressed to make room for the mains–though we doubt you can resist the Herb-Crusted Salmon (P350), which is baked to perfection and embellished with lemon butter and caper sauce.
Smoked Ham Croquettes
Even seemingly simple items are done with finesse. We dare you to exercise control, for example, on the Smoked Ham Croquettes (P100) or should we say, golden orbs filled with ham and creamy béchamel goodness.
The Roast Pepper Beef (P290) is a must-try. It's another classic pairing of tender, pull-apart beef patiently seasoned with choice herbs and spices and served with mashed potatoes. It's a demonstration of what Casaño is about. Careful but certain, from the dishes to the flavors they're able to pull out.
Roast Pepper Beef
Upstairs are several Filipino capiz window shutters, lending a distinct elegance to the space. These distinct features make the second floor a favorite venue for events.
Since opening in May 2015, Casaño is swiftly becoming a favorite venue for civil weddings, baptism receptions, and birthdays. Balikbayans and locals–notably Marikina’s former mayors Bayani and Marides Fernando–have dined within their quietly elegant walls.
A popular spot in the restaurant is this corner with some vinyl art. Gerome also owns Vinyl Craft and made these vinyl art by hand.
More vinyl art by Gerome on the restaurant’s wall
Music from vinyl records pipe out of the restaurant’s speakers. Bryan and Gerome take pride in treating their guests to good music.
Casaño, however, is particularly perfect for those laidback meals with family and friends. Wine is available (for those of age) and good music pipe out of their speakers for everyone to enjoy. Interestingly enough, they don't have WiFi.
“We purposely didn’t install WiFi so [families and friends will] be forced to talk. People are always on their phones, even when they're talking [to each other],” explains Gerome, who grew up believing that dinner should be a time to catch up, ask about each other's day, and really connect. "It still happens. People have mobile Internet so it’s hard to avoid but you don’t want to add on to that anymore.”
Bryan adds, “We also want them to appreciate everything. We want them to appreciate the ambience of the place. We want them to appreciate the music. We want them to appreciate what is on their table. It’s hard to appreciate anything if they are on their phones. That’s really the mindset behind it.”
And it seems like appreciating life is what this lovely old house is all about. Back then it was about oral health, but now, it's through great food and good music.
Photos by Coni Tejada