CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN – Taking Italian food seriously like Italians do

California Pizza Kitchen – Taking Italian food seriously like Italians do

“Italian food is all about ingredients, and it’s not fussy and it’s not fancy.”~Woflgang Puck~

At Alabang Town Center, there is a wide array of Italian restaurants which you can choose from, such as Italiannis, Brooklyn Pizza, Amici, Cibo to name a few. When one I frequented. California Pizza Kitchen. It has been there as long as I can remember. I even have a photo with a friend at CPK more than 10 years ago.

So what’s the secret of a place to keep on thriving and remain strong despite of the numerous newly-constructed restaurants which offers the same products like they do.

Yes, CPK originated in the USA, created and owned by Americans, who put some tweaks on this traditional Italian dish and really took it seriously.

I think they do not stop researching for trends, they update their menu and they give out promotions during occasion constantly.

Their nachos now are colored when more than 10 years ago it’s just the usual yellow orange-colored chips. The ingredients they used are fresh and even the condiments are always updated, when it’s just Tabasco in the past years, they sense the demands of picky eaters and Sriracha or Cholulas are always ready on their tables.

Even the logo speaks for a thousand descriptions bringing you to this state where the legendary palm trees abound among other famous trees in California, from there to almost every part of the globe including the Philippines. =)

cpk logo
From 1985 to 2012 to present. =)

And of course not to forget mentioning the training they provide to their people extensive enough to keep customers coming. They keep this ROCK principle (rock philosophy: respect, opportunity, communication, kindness). Allowing their people to be inspired while at work.

So these are some of what they have in their menus:

I am not so much a fan of barbecue flavored stuff, but this hand-tossed pizza had me craving for more. I am used to pepperonis, so this one is new to me, and I really liked it. It is flavorful but not tiring and its’ spiciness is something I can tolerate. I’ve shared before I am not into spicy food, but this one is okay with me. =)

bbq pizza

The usual item that we asked to “advance call” is the nachos, we had this dip I so love, I wanted to do it at home. It’s their spinach artichoke dip, healthy and fun to eat too.

 

We tried one of the pastas too, vegetable primavera, which is also a healthy option.

veggie pasta

The flat bread with four cheese dip: hearth-baked mozzarella, queso quesadilla, smoked Gouda and Velveeta is so addicting.

4 cheese

I learned from the Restaurant Manager that Velveeta is a brand name compared to an American cheese, which texture is softer and smoother than a processed cheese. It is supposed to be consumed in moderation due to its’ high sodium content and preservatives.

While Gouda cheese is all natural from cow’s milk. Aside from the calories it’ll add to your diet, and fats, it’ll give you a little amount of calcium too. So, not bad.

The menu says “green mango salad” though I had yellow mangoes in it and I didn’t bother to contest it, it tasted really good, crunchy, fresh, a little bit funky like I’m a veggie lover all my life remember?

mango salad
Anti-oxidants. =)

So if you happen to visit Alabang Town Center and loves Italian food, you will have a lot of choices, and I’d like to personally recommend that CPK would be one of them. Happy eating!

You can find them in the following addresses:

  1. Alabang Town Center
  2. Greenbelt 5
  3. Bonifacio High Street
  4. Shangri-la Plaza Mall
  5. Century City Mall
  6. Promenade Mall
  7. SM Mall of Asia

You can also find them from time to time, offering promotions at Metrodeal (http://www.metrodeal.com/) if you want to enjoy great deals.

 

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MONALISA RISTORANTE..

Monalisa Ristorante

“You can’t buy happiness but you can buy pizza, and that’s the same thing.” ~unknown~

Holding such admiration to the diversity of cuisines from different countries. There is one particular country that I truly admire. Italy. Not to miss mentioning the beauty of their country gifted by God with such a vast pulchritude, breathtaking landscapes and naturally loving people. A country which I long to see with my own pair of hungry eyes. It has been a dream for years yet unfulfilled.

I also have a special liking and amazement for their food. Though they aren’t a big fan of risotto. And ironically, even if I am a typical Filipina who can not skip rice in my meals, but I can do if it’s pasta and/or pizza.

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I must admit, I am a pizza junkie. While I was pregnant, I craved for pizzas the whole time. I go for any brand. Even those stalls that sell cheaper pizzas topping it with just ham and cheese. We even bought ingredients once and did our own. We called it pizzacho. Because we already have a name for the baby in my womb. We named him Echo.

Having Alabang as my rendezvous, I keep on searching for a new and cool Italian restaurant until I came across Monalisa Ristorante. It is tucked in a corner at the second floor of Commerce center. And not the typical artisanal pizzeria, theirs is authentic Italian.

Commerce center is a mall sandwiched by two other malls: Festival mall and Alabang Town Center. There is something very special with Commerce Center. When you can’t breath due to the stream of townies either at Festival mall and Alabang Town center. Check it out and you’ll appreciate the ambiance of the whole place. There is privacy as well though it isn’t as big like the two malls that I’ve mentioned.

I kept falling in love with Alabang every now and then. As a teenager, I grew up there until Festival mall spawned. Alabang Town center did several expansions too, still, there are other options to choose from when you’re in Alabang. There is Civic drive where popular restaurants like Neil’s kitchen, Kanin club, Contis among others are situated. And several hotels for a cozy shop to sip coffee or teas plus your favorite cake or pastry or a spread from their “Eat all you can” menu.

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My knowledge of Commerce Center is accidental. Due to traffic, I opted to walk from Festival mall to ATC and in passing, there it is quietly sitted across Acacia hotel. The name: Monalisa Ristorante sounded very interesting. And from afar, you can see that the interior of the place is impressive. The murals in the ceiling is visible and enticing too.

As we’re about to enter this place, a huge reproduction of Monalisa will greet you with her famous mysterious smile. There are more murals inside. Some of which are paintings from the Renaissance era.

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Like a habit that’s hard to break. I took photos while we’re waiting for our food. Jen is already used to it. I take photos of my own too which is called “selfies” or photos of what we’re getting are “food porns”by the millennials. Sometimes, Jen take my pictures too.

 

 

And when there is an available attendant to take our pictures, we normally asked them to capture us together.

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We asked the RM to tell us about the “Create your own pizza”.

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Their best sellers and if they have Stellas per Jen’s request. Well, they don’t have that beer from Belgium. Jen was offered to try the wines. They have a nice cellar just across their kitchen counter.

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We opted for that “Create your own pizza” thing. You will choose 4 toppings and these are our choices:

– mushrooms

– pepperonis

– bell peppers

– cheese (a special kind)

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For pasta we had Pollo pizimente as recommended.

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It’s just good to know that each place we visit has something special to offer. At Monalisa, I like their dough, it is a bit gummy and tasty. And it’s made from wheat bread which made it a healthier treat. Their cheese (s) are awesome as well.

From the ambiance, excellent service of their people, taste and presentation, Monalisa Ristorante is my kind of Italian restaurant. I will visit again one of these days. 😊 They have zuppa, seafood pasta, house specialty and calzone!

PS

And they bake their own breads too. Their complimentary bread came with three different dips: butter, pesto and tomato sauce..=)

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Monalisa Ristorante is located at: Building 1 Commerce Center, Commerce Avenue Corner Filinvest Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa, 1781 Metro Manila .You can contact them at: 556 – 0708.

Hunting for a new pizza at PIZZA HUT!

Hunting for new pizzas at Pizza hut

“Happiness is pizzas with lots of cheese!”

During my teenage years. Pizza hut among other pizza parlors in the country holds a strong footing in its’ category.

And through the years, Pizza hut was a regular companion when it comes to gratifying our cravings for these specially-made doughs from Italy.

lights
Blue lights..
new interiors
Cove lightings created drama. I think they renovated for a couple times already..

Last night, after doing regular routines to get our supplies from a nearby supermarket, our empty stomachs lead us to Pizza hut.

cha
Cha and nanny!

True enough, they have evolved. Since another pizza parlor (which happens to be their loftiest rival) offers thin crust pizza, they now have it too. Or probably been years since we don’t normally visit their place, we just call and request for home-deliveries. So I wouldn’t know.

They also have “Hut Patatas“, the famous mojo potatoes which is always trending in big ways and one of the reasons why the other pizza parlor is famous for and a lot of new items we discovered in their menu.

mojos
Their version of Mojos.

Mojos potatoes or potato wedges being a type of “hors d’oeuvre” originated from some regions of the United States.

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato_wedges

While in the Canary Islands, it is a kind of sauce.

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mojo_(sauce)

So we tried all those new items except for the green salads in shrimps and mangoes.

chken salad
Greens with chix.
shrimp salad
With shrimps.

Take a look:

We had 2 different pizzas both in new variants. We got or should I say I personally choose this one with sausages on it assuming it is more like of pepperonis.

sausage pizza
With sausages..

And the one displayed on their table as a Christmas offering. The “Holiday cheesy bites”.

holiday bites
Cheesy bites..

It is stacked with several toppings like bell peppers, chunks of pineapples, some meats plus mozzarella filled bite-sized rolls on the side. We didn’t want the mayo like flavor. It is actually a garlic dip according to the attendant. Though, honestly, it didn’t fit in all the rest of the flavors. It is mismatched. And this is just our opinion. Some might like it. It’s different tastes for different folks right?

christmas
1 vote out of four..

We also had their “Spicy Asian”. The hand-tossed wings in Hickory BBQ sauce.

wings
Wings!

A favorite of father and son alongside Buffalo wings. It should be spicy for these two men.

tatty and kulet
Father and son!

And I had the cheezy thins too. It’s their own version of the recently loved “Four cheeses”. The most-liked options by far. By all four of us. =)

four cheese
Gone in seconds! lol!

Specializing in so much more than pizzas itself, just continuing the tradition with a massive selection is now at hand only that not everything is available. My hubby and son favored the “Crab salad roll” however it is not available.

crab rolls
Aaaw..cravings!

Photo courtesy of:

I also ordered for an ala carte of their paella for my mom, but then, it’s not available too.

For the drinks, my adoptive daughter took their blue pinacolada and the rest of us had their bottomless Pepsi. I missed this drink, it is often Coca-cola in most restaurants. =)

pina
For Cha!

Despite of what’s missing in their menus, it was still worth visiting Pizza hut. It has always been a gastronomic treat having pizzas. And the best part of it is having them with people close to your heart – your family. =)

LA PIADINA at Glorietta 4, Makati

La Piadina – Another Italian inspired restaurant 

Sometimes, you just want pizza. Italian pizza. Authentic Italian pizza.

Meeting up with college friends is one sure way to do it over nibbling on pizza. My college bestie then endorsed La Piadina.

logo 1
Link: http://ph.restaurant.openrice.com/lapiadina/aboutus

Regionale Italiana: all the items from their menu were a combination of exciting and popular dishes from the different regions of Italy:

– Puglia

– Emilia Romagna

– Piemonte

– Toscana

la piadina 3
My bestie’s loves…

I researched for La Piadina’s meaning and it means “flat bread” in Italy. It felt more exciting since during my research, I found out that the Italian owner of this restaurant strictly implements “No commissary” and “No micro-wave policy”. It reminded of my late father who insisted to return the black micro-wave that I bought as a present to him and my mother. According to him, you will see all kinds of appliances at home, but please, not a micro-wave oven. He explained why and in a way, I admired the strictness. On that same day, we returned the item.

La Piadina is inside a mall – Glorietta 4 to be specific. Though, they also have branches at:

– Robinson’s Galleria

– Robinson’s Ermita

– Greenbelt 1

– Solaris 1

Our first visit to La Piadina happened years ago, during a college friend’s usual visit to the Philippines since she migrated to the US many years ago. Her once a year visit to the Philippines meant dinner or lunch or shopping with me and our other friend.

It was good to know that beyond distance, we make it a point to see each other once a year and keep one another posted be it on e-mail or Facebook, Viber and you would’nt believe even via snail mail.

When I received a snail mail from her, I was so ecstatic and it really felt good receiving such nowadays. She was thoughtful ever since college.

What we’ve had from La Piadina are these garlic bread sticks, which they call “Grissini di pizza” for a starter.

la piadina
“Grissini di pizza…”

We took one variant of their pizza for our other friend and “Calzone” for the two of us.

la piadina 4
This is Calzone. The one behind the bread sticks from the other picture. Link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Piadina-La-Piadina-Manila- Tokyo/11523658521078

See the size, I had to bring it home. And it comes with some pastas to match it. I didn’t even consume half of it not because the taste isn’t good. It does taste good. It’s just that we ordered a lot and I guess we can’t consume everything, our other friend even shared portions of her pizza too.

Doing this occasions,  it is truly some kind of human experience that we all need to be grateful and practically leaving genuine smiles on our faces.

la piadina 2
My college buddies, we had this shot while waiting for our food.

Besides, from such sanguine expectations, our cravings for pizza is as good as we had hoped.

Till then. =)

La Piadina is in:
Glorietta 4
2/F Glorietta 4,
East Drive Ayala Center, Makati City
Phone: 02-501-3788

AMICI – Learning Italian…

AMICI-Learning Italian

“I’ve never met a dish of pasta I did not love.” ~Unknown~

The tagline “Its more fun in the Philippines” is all true to me. Especially for foreigners. Why did I say that? The country caters to different dishes from almost every nationalities. Be it Japanese, Italian, Mexican, French, American, Swiss, Thailand, Vietnamese, to mention a few. You will likely prove it by the foods that Philippines offer to their visitors. Probably why a lot have made their sojourn in the country since they won’t have a hard time looking for their favorite food back home should the craving attacks.

One of which is Italian food. It is actually available almost anywhere. Even when I was in Tacloban. I used to have my dinners at Giuseppe’s, an authentic Italian restaurant where the owner who hailed from Italy mans the place himself.

One restaurant in Mandaluyong – Cantina Sicilianita’s chef even learned how to make home-made Ricotta cheese in Italy and brought the recipe here.

I’ve tried a lot of pizzas and pastas and gelatos. And I am having difficulty to choose who among them is the best.  Because each offers a different twist and you will definitely fickle making a choice when it comes to which one is the best for you. It benefits you from the endless alternatives to choose from.

One of which is Amici. Specialty: Italian food. Pastas and pizzas. And an ice cream parlor to go with it – Caramia.

amici
Elegant menu..
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Amici/ Caramia – ATC..
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Pizza. Pasta. Gelato.

I was lucky enough to taste all the variants because the Store Manager of their branch in Alabang is a former colleague of mine.

cara
Courtesy of: http://caramia.ph/

My favorite from the many flavors she had me tried, a teaspoon full for each, is the pistachio, sansrival and of course blueberry cheesecake! (–,)

sans
Sansrival… courtesy of: http://caramia.ph/
Blueberry-Cheesecake-Gelato-Small
Blueberry cheesecake. She knew it and had me try this first…<3 courtesy of: http://caramia.ph/
pistachio
Pistachio as recommended. Promise it’s good! Courtesy of: http://caramia.ph/

Amici originated back in 2001 with their pilot branch situated in Don Bosco, Makati. It was managed by the Salesian priests and started small until they became famous. My passion for anything vintage captured by their mosaic floors in this branch. And that tree that they didn’t cut and became part of the interior is just so amazing. It was extraordinary to me because personally I can not cut a tree. The place for me acquired a soul.

Their best seller is Spaghetti Al Tesori Del Mare. But I especially loved the Spaghetti Al Promodoro which is tomato-based. They made it so creamy I could just pull the sauce all off from the pizza and eat them on its own. For pizza it’s Pepperoni (as always) with three kinds of cheese (provolone, mozzarella and parmesan). During this visit, we tried Napoletana..

amici 3
We tried Napoletana for a change..

For pastas, I like their Raviolis too. The pasta is al dente and I can right away separate the taste of the fillings (we usually get pesto or shrimp) and I’m already good. =)

My health buff bff would never get tired of her Aglio olio e pepperoncino.

amici 2
Too oily yes, but as my BFF said. It’s still healthy.. ehehe

One friend commented that it is too oily though she justified that the oil is as well healthy. Amici uses olive oil in all their dishes.

I also like Italian restaurants with free-flowing parmesan cheese. I use it to take the place of salt. It makes my palate creamier. So less star for me if an Italian restaurant doesn’t have it. Additional star for the freshly ground pepper. And another additional star if the attendant volunteers to ground the pepper for you usually with a wooden pepper grinder. Amici have all of these. And I don’t mind dining there again and again. This picture is actually my 5th visit to Amici. And I’m looking forward for more visits when my “Amici” (friends) and I craved for Italian restaurant in Alabang. =)